Military & Mental Health: One Veteran’s Battle with Schizophrenia
With Veterans Day upon us, I’ve decided to interview my friend, Jonathan Looper. Jonathan wrote and is co-starring in the movie Light Wounds. Coming soon, the feature film tells the story of Jonathan’s childhood friend, Dustin, a veteran with schizophrenia, who wanted to share his story with the world. The film, directed by Max Leonida, is co-produced by Vadim Dardagani, Jonathan Looper and Executive Producer Franco Sama. According to NAMI, 100,000 veterans have sought help for mental illness since the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001. Some 8,000 VA veterans are thought to die by suicide each year. In a world where it’s hard to talk about mental illnesses afflicting veterans (ranging from depression to PTSI, post-traumatic stress injury), Light Wounds is helping change the narrative.
My Interview With Jonathan Looper
Jessica: Where did you go to school?
Jonathan: I graduated with my Bachelors from Georgetown University and received my MFA from the New York Film Academy (Universal Studios campus).
Jessica: What motivated you to make this movie?
Jonathan: In March of 2012, a childhood friend from my home state of Oklahoma reached out to me on Facebook. We met up to talk when I visited Oklahoma that spring. During our first meeting, he opened about a part of his life that I didn’t know about since I had moved away after high school – he entered the Air Force and left the military to take care of his mom who was undergoing cancer treatment – and eventually he asked me, “Did you hear that I’m schizophrenic?” Near the end of our conversation, he told me that he wished he was a writer so that he could share his
experience to help others who might be going through similar
circumstances and I asked him if he would be interested in sharing his story through a film.
My friend has since shared how this film has helped him feel that
something good had come out of this battle he had. But this film also
made me realize my passion in film, especially in its capacity to
change hearts, minds and lives. I hope the story of this film can
reach and inspire people in the way it has inspired me.
Jessica: What is the basic plot of the movie (no spoilers)?
Jonathan: It is a young veteran’s struggle for understanding and to readjust into society when it seems he is losing everything in his life – his family, friends, mentors, even himself.
Jessica: What symptoms of schizophrenia are shown in your movie?
Jonathan: There are certainly the elements of hallucinations, delusions and paranoia, but these are mixed with a deeper search for meaning in it all and how those symptoms will trick you into looking for meaning in the wrong places, eventually resulting in a fast, downward spiral. For my friend and in the film, that downward spiral is fast and sudden, the worst of it taking place in a matter of a few weeks.
Jessica: How can I be a good friend to someone who has schizophrenia?
Jonathan: Listen with an open mind and understand that they want to understand themselves as much as you want to understand them. If something they say throws you or seems “out there,” think of anytime you’ve gone through something in your life that didn’t make sense and, I bet, you tried to make sense of or justify it even if there was no apparent reason for it.
Jessica: What is the message you want viewers to take away from the feature film, Light Wounds?
Jonathan: The main message is that things aren’t
always what they seem. What we see on the outside is often a
distortion and sometimes a disguise of something deeper. This doesn’t just apply to the main character while he battles schizophrenia; his family and friends willingly put on a disguise to avoid addressing what is deeper, until a crisis brings out their true natures.
How To Support Light Wounds
Jonathan said “the best way to support right now is to share with family and friends on Facebook, Twitter and social media and to join the mailing list at www.lightwoundsmovie.com for production updates and exclusive announcements and releases.” (Anyone who is interested in a corporate sponsorship, opportunities can email
Follow Light Wounds
–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno
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