17 October 2013

PTSD-awareness Video 'Dillion' Now Free On-line

A 45-minute documentary about an Iowa National Guard citizen-soldier who killed himself months after returning home from deployment is now available for viewing on-line free and in its entirety. Dillion Naslund, 25, of Galva, Iowa was a member of 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division.

The film "Dillon" debuted on Kansas Public Television station KPTS in early September, and was the subject of a previous post on the Red Bull Rising blog. To view the film, click here.

As presented on-line, Dillion's parents Jeff and Lisa Naslund appear in a 15-minute studio interview following the film. The Naslunds discuss how they hope the documentary might inspire other soldiers, veterans, military families and friends to seek help, information, and resources.

The subtitle of the documentary is "The true story of a soldier's battle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [P.T.S.D.]."

"Dillion came home, and after the dust had settled from the parties and the 'welcome homes,' you could see things were turning the wrong way," Jeff Naslund says at one point in the documentary. "He was having a hard time coping with life. He was trying to put that puzzle together. Every time he'd slip a piece in, it seemed like two more would slip out away from him. He was trying hard, but he couldn't pull it back together [...]"

The film succeeds most as a heartfelt tribute to a fallen friend and family member, as a warning to watch loved ones for signs of suicidal intent, and as a celebration of various community-based efforts to help other soldiers, veterans, and families.

Groups featured in the documentary include:
As a work of documentary history, "Dillion" also provides insight into the life and values of modern-day small-town Iowa. This is an America that few still have opportunity or privilege to see, and that non-Midwesterners may find as foreign as wars fought overseas.

As a piece of journalism, the film is more problematic. To avoid encouraging "copycat" suicides, newspaper and broadcast reporters usually try to avoid focusing on funerals, or on grieving family and friends. "Dillion" features plenty of both. This is a documentary, however, not a news report produced under deadline. If parents or military unit leaders are concerned about the risk of inspiring copycat behaviors, "Dillion" might more ideally viewed as part of a guided conversation with youth or veterans, with professional or trained resources present.

(For suggestions on writing or talking about suicide, visit resources such as Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, and ReportingOnSuicide.org.)

In other ways, however, "Dillion" hits the right beats:
  • Suicide is never a rational decision.
  • Often, there are months of related, visible behaviors such as drinking and depression. Family and friends can often help.
  • There are always resources that can help. Do not give up.
Ulitmately, the film stands as a testament to one family's desire to grow something good out of a heart-breaking bad.

Regardless of how or where it is viewed, let's hope that "Dillion" results in fewer stories like it.


The Veterans Crisis Line is a toll-free and on-line resource staffed by trained Department of Veterans Affairs personnel, who can confidentially assist soldiers, veterans, families and friends toward local help and resources.

According to the Veterans Crisis Line website:
1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.

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