Homefront Panel Discussion on Military Children and Families’ Mental Health April 26, 2022


In honor of the Month of the Military Child, Shine Global hosted free panel discussions and virtual viewings of Through Our Eyes: Homefront, our short documentary illustrating the impact of military service through the eyes of three children from across the country. In the second panel hosted on April 26, Dr. Charles Marmar of NYU Langone moderated a discussion with Dr. Carl Castro of USC School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, Dr. Tracy Neal-Walden of Chief Clinical Officer of the Cohen Veterans Network, Dr. Amanda Spray Director of the Steven A Cohen Military Families Clinic at NYU Langone, and Dr. Amy Williams Chief Clinical Officer of Headstrong

The panelists discuss both the resilience of military children and families and their unique mental health needs that often are not met.

Select Quotes from the conversation include

  • “As a therapist, can I imagine having this film [Homefront] in my back pocket and sharing it with a family? Absolutely. Right, here are some families that might be struggling and here are some things that they’re doing as a way to kind of normalize, destigmatize, open up a conversation…. It can fast track.” – Amy Williams, Chief Clinical Officer, Headstrong
  • “[Homefront] highlighted a huge gap in our knowledge, a huge gap in our support structures for parents with kids, fairly young children who need an opportunity to explore and be a child.” Carl Castro, USC School of Social Work
  • “I think [Homefront] is a wonderful bridge….and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to build those bridges and get a better understanding of what military families, especially service members who have been wounded, go through. It’s very very powerful.”  – Carl Castro, USC School of Social Work 

In the first panel on April 12th, Homefront director Kristi Jacobson was joined by Headstrong CEO Jim McDonough, Blue Star Families CEO Kathy Roth-Douquet, and Travis Manion Foundation President Ryan Manion for a discussion about the film and the mental well-being of veterans and their families. The conversation was moderated by Former Acting Secretary of the Army Honorable Patrick J. Murphy.  You can watch the April 12 panel with them here.


Shine Global is also pleased to offer this free companion discussion guide to the Through Our Eyes: Homefront documentary for viewers to download.  The film is now available to watch on HBOMax as part of the Through Our Eyes documentary series from Sesame Workshop.

In the US, more than three million children live in homes with servicemembers and veterans who rely on caregiver support. In HOMEFRONT, three children of veteran families cope with the emotional impact of having a wounded parent, navigate the unique challenges of visible and invisible injuries sustained during military service, and together journey toward collective healing.

Gabby, Terry, and Luther all have parents who were injured while serving, and each family has found a way to heal the wounds of war. Homefront shows how Gabby (9), a fierce animal lover with a stock of chickens, rabbits, bees, and dogs, loves her family and faces her fears about her Dad’s traumatic brain injury and PTSD via equine therapy. Terry (10), an enthusiastic boy and his parents, Taniki and Brandon, share their experiences and mental health struggles as they work to heal and help each other cope with depression and PTSD through honest conversation and embracing joy. Luther (9) is a charismatic boy who wants to be “like my dad when I grow up.” His father, Joe, a Navy veteran who lost his leg in an IED explosion, struggles through chronic pain to put family first.

*You can download free curricula for Shine Global’s other films here.

Shine Global is an award-winning non-profit media company that gives voice to children and their families by sharing their stories of resilience to raise awareness, promote action, and inspire change. We produce inspiring films and compelling content about at-risk children. Through tailored distribution and outreach, we connect with our audiences in communities, classrooms, museums, and on capitol hill as part of a powerful engagement campaign to encourage social change.