'Widow Project' Documentary Release Nears

By Sharon Foster
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2008 - A 75-minute documentary that focuses on the lives of six military widows from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will start making the rounds this month at military bases and Veterans of Foreign Wars halls across the country.

"In the documentary, the women speak about everything from how they met their husbands to when they received that dreaded knock on the door," said Taryn Davis, founder and president of the American Widow Project. "Their stories and experiences have been made into this film."

Davis started filming this documentary a year ago and finished in April. On July 12, 2008, she screened the film for more than 30 military widows from all over the country.

"As I sat in the theater, I heard them cry, cheer and even laugh," Davis said. "I saw the film doing what it was meant to do - allowing them to work through their grief and mourning by hearing the candid stories of those who have and are going through the same thing."

Davis said she completed the documentary to reach out to the widows and widowers who are not aware of the American Widow Project, a home-front group of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, and to raise awareness of the organization as a whole.

"When I lost my husband, Cpl. Michael Davis, on May 21, 2007, I found very few resources that spoke to me," Davis said. "I wanted something that would candidly tell me which obstacles I would face in the next weeks, months and years - something that would tell me what to do with his belongings, how to celebrate anniversaries and inspire me to take on this new world without my husband," she said.

In talking with other widows, Davis said, she realized she was not alone in her feelings and started the American Widow Project to help herself and others like her. The project boasts 140 friends, all military widows, on its "widows-only" MySpace page.

Davis also hopes, through the American Widow Project, to offer a hotline for widows to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With other widows taking calls, she envisions the hotline as a networking system to connect widows to people in their communities who would like to volunteer their time and services - whether it be babysitting or counseling - to show their thanks and appreciation for the sacrifice their loved ones made.

The American Widow Project documentary will be sent free of charge to all military widows and widowers. The public also can buy the DVD, with all the proceeds going back into the organization.

The documentary will be available on the American Widow Project Web site later this month. A preview can be seen on YouTube.

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