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  • When I wrote for the Navy Memorial’s Navy Log Blog, I covered the G.I. Film Festival that was held at the Navy Memorial in May, 2011. This festival had some amazing films, largely about the experiences of individual men and women in uniform, and of families left behind while their loved ones were deployed.

    “Flat Daddy” was one of the best films I reviewed for conveying the impact of war on the families left behind. “Flat Daddy” sprung out of a New York Times article in 2006 that talked about a company that was making “Flat Daddies” and “Heroes on a Stick”, life-sized cardboard cutouts of husbands, wives, parents and children serving overseas. It was a labor of love, as the company did this at no charge to the families, as their way of supporting the families of soldiers.
  • Nara Garber, Betsy Nagler and Peggy Sutton went from talking about this phenomenon at a party in 2006, to beginning to make their film a couple weeks later in Maine. All told, the process to film and produce this film took 3 ½ years, but the end product was a very personal, dramatic, and realistic portrayal of the experience and sacrifice of the loved ones left to carry on at home while soldiers are deployed, and the difficulties involved with brief returns home, then off to the war again. This documentary followed 4 families through the trials and tribulations of extended separations, and yes, there were lots of “Flat Daddies” evident throughout the film. But, it was about so much more than that. A wonderful, touching documentary film.

    In Woodbury, Minnesota, a couple assumes custody of their two- and three-year old grandsons when their son and daughter-in-law deploy to Iraq. Devin and Dylan initially cry themselves to sleep at night, and Donna is forced to transition from the role of doting grandmother to that of full-time working mom. As the boys gradually adjust to a home very different from the one they left behind in Texas, Donna worries about how they will cope when their parents return for an 18-day leave - only to depart for the war again.
  • Jelissa of The Bronx used to depend on her husband for everything, but she is surprised at how quickly she becomes self-reliant when left to manage on her own with their four-year-old daughter,Sabrina. When “Papo” comes home on leave, his natural tendency to take charge disrupts the new life his wife and daughter have built in his absence. Can their marriage adapt to Jelissa’s newfound independence and a surprise extension of Papo’s deployment?

    Fifteen months after her son, Nacho, was killed in action, Marina of Henderson, Nevada orders a Hero on a Stick in his image. She is determined to honor Nacho by marching with it in the Las Vegas Veterans Day Parade, even though she still often finds herself overcome with grief. Will she eventually be able to move on for the sake of her six surviving children?

    Andrea of remote Caribou, Maine relies on two Flat Daddies to keep four-year-old Jorja and three-year-old Josiah company while she juggles multiple jobs and the responsibilities of two parents. She is overjoyed when her husband, Andrew, returns from Iraq, but real-life Daddy has difficulty reconnecting with his wife and kids. Andrea hopes the family will find its balance again, but she also knows that by the time they do, Andrew will almost certainly be preparing to redeploy.
  • Employing probing interviews, intimate verité moments, vibrant images of the American landscape and personal photographs taken by the families themselves, Flat Daddy presents four unique perspectives on the war effort and the varied repercussions of
    deployment; together, they weave a nuanced narrative of the challenges military families in post – 9/11 America.

    This film has made the rounds of Film Festivals all over the country over the past year, and will be released for downloading on Nov. 6th, in time for Veterans’Day. More Information can be found at
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