“The Long Road Home” military series by National Geographic Channel is showcased worldwide

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Recently in honor of Veteran’s Day I attended a screening in Texas for a National Geographic Channel military series on TV called The Long Road Home. Nat Geo and the Texas Film Commission delivered a sneak peek into this Texas-filmed series based on Martha Raddatz’s bestselling novel The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family. The first episode premiered on November 7, 2017 and the show is now featured worldwide in over 171 locations and 45 languages each week on Tuesday’s via National Geographic Channel. The Long Road Home is presently the largest active set in the U.S. built on Fort Hood Army Base. Creator and showrunner of this TV show is screenwriter and documentary filmmaker Mikko Alanne.  

“On April 4, 2004, the First Cavalry Division from Fort Hood was ferociously ambushed in Sadr City, Baghdad—a day that later came to be known as Black Sunday. Based on Martha Raddatz’s best-selling book, The Long Road Home chronicles their heroic fight for survival, as well as their families’ agonizing wait on the home front back in Texas. The cast includes two-time Emmy-nominated actor Michael Kelly as Lt. Col. Gary Volesky; Emmy-nominated actor Jason Ritter as Capt. Troy Denomy; Kate Bosworth as Capt. Denomy’s wife, Gina; Sarah Wayne Callies as LeAnn Volesky, wife of Lt. Col. Volesky; Noel Fisher as Pfc. Tomas Young; and Jeremy Sisto as Staff Sgt. Robert Miltenberger.”

The Long Road Home tells a story of the ultimate sacrifice made at war. The series gives a voice and a proper acknowledgment to the Veterans that have served and their families that supported them. I absolutely loved the episode we were showcased and as I sat there watching the screening of The Long Road Home on a Sunday evening. I felt a wild and extensive mixture of emotions, light and dark. Mikko Alanne does a fantastic job of intertwining beauty and humor into a darker story. Right when you want to look away from Baghdad, the series keeps you hooked with light-hearted moments back in Texas. Alanne is also a master of flashbacks and retrospective storytelling. Viewers are watching the episodes with ease, without confusions as to the different times with different characters, past and present. I was also impressed by how the set is so accurate in detail that even the military personnel that helped advise Mikko Alanne on set described it to be almost a mirror reflection of Baghdad. One of the Veterans of the U.S. Army that helped Alanne in the production process, as well as attend the Q&A in Austin, is Eric Bourquin.

“While on the set he and other 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers endured in Iraq, Eric Bourquin managed to get the emotional healing he had sought for years. ‘There’s no way I could just take a stroll through memory lane [in Iraq] if i wanted to,” he said after a panel discussion about the show at the Defense Information School. “But I was so fortunate that I was able to do that and walk through it’. The Army assisted the film crew at Fort Hood, where producers claimed they built the largest working film set in North America on a 12-acre site. More than 80 buildings were erected at the Elijah urban training site at Fort Hood, Texas, where the division is headquartered, to resemble homes and streets in Sadr City. For Bourquin, who worked as a production consultant for the show, the fabricated town gave him tangible closure”. – U.S. Army

At the end of the screening I was able to ask Eric Bourquin a question and it was definitely an intense moment for me. I respected his honesty and bravery to retell this story and to heal from it. [A recording of the Q&A can be found on YouTube.] For me, even though I never served in the military, it was hard to ignore my personal feelings at a Press event like this being a military brat myself that grew up with nearly all Veterans and men of the military: Air Force, Army, Marines, Green Berets and so on. As a member of the military family, this was an intense but heartfelt episode for me because I’ve experienced and seen what the military and wartimes can do to a person, good and bad. I’ve seen the affects of PTSD and trauma. It hurts the Veterans and their families to see loved ones struggling. Even if the Veterans are most affected of all. Thus, any safe place of healing is highly commendable and needed. Ultimately I respect the vision of what The Long Road Home is hoping to accomplish because that is really what Veterans and their families really need: to be heard, seen and to heal so that they may readjust back to normal everyday life and recover from the past. 

I highly recommend this TV series for all Veterans and members of the military family. Even if you’re not a Veteran, active duty or part of the military family. This show can be appreciated by all civilians because it’s deeply important for those uninvolved or unrelated to the military to gain enlightenment and second-hand exposure as to what military personnel have to endure overseas at war whilst away from home. We all need to see and to empathize with the difficulty Veterans face (and their families) when returning back. We need to see their long road home to recovery and healing. I really valued this series as an artist and a member of the military family, because when a member of the military is deployed and goes to war, it affects the families, too. 

Stay tuned for tonights episode of The Long Road Home titled  “In The Valley of Death” at 10/9 PM Central on Nov. 21. For more information please visit their website on National Geographic Channel at http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/the-long-road-home/.

 

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Bob Roth talks Transcendental Meditation and dharma at Prevention’s R3 Summit

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Bob Roth presenting at Prevention Magazine’s 3rd annual R3 Summit at ACL Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas. Photo Credit: Jack Plunkett.

Transcendental Meditation teacher Bob Roth spoke on the opening night of Prevention Magazine’s R3 Summit at ACL Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas on January 15, 2016. Self-transcending meditation was the focus of his speech. Bob Roth explained how this unique and timeless form of meditation could transform people’s lives for the better. Living in a such a stressful world where everything around us is moving at a hurried and constant pace, it can be immensely difficult, if not beyond overwhelming, for us to take complete care of ourselves: body, mind and soul. Through the course of his interactive presentation, Roth guided listeners through the scientific process as to how transcendental meditation and its sound mantra practice can help strengthen the brain and relieve trauma, stress or stagnant energy that’s locked in our minds. This form of meditation even lowers high blood pressure, reduces chronic pain and depletes excess amounts of Cortisol levels, a hormone that is directly related to stress. He described the end result like being in a state of dharma.

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Sharing stories of healing and delivering an insightful overview of his life’s work. A career that began in 1968 around the age of 18, when Bob Roth started to change his diet and even studied Prevention Magazine. Roth emphasized and explained the immense empowerment and peace-of-mind that comes from transcendental meditation (TM). He expressed the ‘constellation of positive changes’ and scientifically described the peacefulness that comes from integrating TM® into the routine of our daily lives.

Bob Roth is one of the most experienced and sought-after meditation teachers in America. Over the past 40 years, Bob has taught Transcendental Meditation to many thousands of people and authored an authoritative book on the subject, fittingly entitled, Transcendental Meditation, which has been translated into 20 languages. Bob currently serves as the Executive Director of The David Lynch Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity which has brought meditation to over 500,000 inner-city youth in underserved schools in 35 countries, to veterans and their families who suffer from post-traumatic stress, and women and children who are survivors of domestic violence.”

Fortunately, Mr. Roth also had a moment to speak with an A&E Austin Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, regarding this ancient form of meditation.

Nicolette Mallow: During your presentation, you mentioned that you’re deeply focused on helping children, homeless shelters and veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And I do believe that people find immense peace and calm through transcendental meditation. The end results are obviously beneficial and worthwhile. But it can be hard for those who’ve endured such trauma to sit still in the silence and close their eyes. How do those beginning TM® overcome the struggle to find the patience and stillness to meditate with such internal angst? How do people overcome their turmoil and meditate in peace?

Bob Roth: That’s a beautiful question… Transcendental meditation doesn’t enter darkness and it’s a very forgiving practice that is practically effortless. Closing our eyes and looking into the dark can be scary. TM® is not scary nor is it a grueling process that sets off triggers or trauma. It’s a very charming, peaceful form of meditation. It does not evoke darkness on any level, and it feels like being in a state of dharma. Therefore people want to repeat it because it brings out positive feelings: a complete state of peacefulness.

NM: Does it take a lot of time to learn and is it hard to integrate into daily routine?

BR: It does not take much time to learn and it’s an easily acquired skill. This is why we have TM® teachers to help others begin the sound mantra meditations over the course of four days so it’s imprinted into memory… Frankly no one has the time. But what’s the alternative? Stress destroys life and it’s toxic. If we make the time twice a day to meditate, the results are remarkable and deliver an inner-calmness, ease, peace and state of happiness. Every aspect of our health and mental wellness improves after meditation. Transcendental meditation protects and regenerates the body. It’s very cleansing and the feeling of awakening and resilience is very purifying.

For more information regarding Transcendental Meditation and where to locate a TM® teacher in your area: please visit their website at http://www.tm.org. Lastly, if you are a veteran or know a loved one that served and is in need of cost-free healing: The David Lynch Foundation also has a division, Operation Warrior Wellness (OWW), that serves veterans in need of healing. Donations to sponsor a veteran can also be submitted on their website.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in January 2016.