Thank You For Your Service Spotlight

Published November 11, 2016 by Nicole Olson


July 2016, Brian Kavanagh and his daughters Evie, Meryn, and wife Jessica.

July 2016, Brian Kavanagh and his daughters Evie, Meryn, and wife Jessica.

This Veterans Day we wanted to shine the spotlight on two of our Movie Captains, Jessica and Susan Kavanagh, who are bringing Theatrical On Demand® screenings of Thank You For Your Service to their communities.  After the loss of her husband Brian,  Jessica began working to maintain his legacy by helping other struggling veterans find support through his non-profit: Vetlinks. Below is a featured Q&A with Jessica, including added quotes from Brian’s mother, Susan, where we discuss their upcoming screenings of Thank You For Your Service, and the  inspiration behind Gathr-ing their communities to insight change.

Gathr Films (GF): Tell us a little about yourself, and your story.

JK: My husband Brian was a  MAJOR  in the Army and served in both OIF and OEF.  He suffered from PTSD and ultimately died from complications of PTSD on June 28th, 2016.  We fought a long fight to get him proper treatment while on active duty and as a Veteran with little success.  There were so little resources, that we paid for everything we could privately to get him the help that he earned and deserved for fighting for our freedom.  The VA denied care and benefits, and even now upon his death I’m still fighting for benefits for our family who is now without a husband and father.  Most people are unaware of what our Veterans and their families go through while they are away fighting, and the aftermath of war when they return home.  This movie (Thank You For Your Service)  shows just a fraction of this reality, and I want to help make others aware in honor of my husband Brian.

brian kavanagh

GF: What led to Vetlinks and your involvement with it?

JK: While Brian was at a treatment facility for PTSD, he met multiple men who were either unaware of the benefits they were entitled to, or who didn’t have the energy to deal with all of the paperwork for the VA in order to get benefits.  He started classes to help these men, and this ultimately lead to the creation of Vetlinks, with the hope of being able to help any Veterans who weren’t getting the benefits they had earned.  At the same time, as Brian’s spouse, I found it nearly impossible to find a location that would help him.  The resources were not out there.

Now that Brian has passed, I have vowed to continue Vetlinks in honor of Brian. To help Veterans and family members get the resources they deserve whether it may be from a medical, legal, or social aspect.

GF: How did you come across the film Thank You For Your Service, and what inspired you to host a screening of it?

JK: My brother and sister in-law saw the film in New York City and suggested that I go see it in DC the night after.  I had the privilege of meeting with Tom Donahue, and was able to talk to him about our story.  My inspiration in hosting this screening is to show others a picture of the true devastation of war for Veterans and their families.  Most people are not aware-they have no idea of the true sadness war causes. I’m excited to be a Movie Captain so I can bring awareness of this film to others in our immediate area.

GF: Why do you think your community, if not the nation, needs to see this film?

JK: Everyone needs to see this film.  It starts with the community, and hopefully it will spread statewide and nationwide.  

SK:“Our sons and daughters have sacrificed their lives, not only on the battlefield, they have sacrificed their lives at home  with PTSD, Moral Injury, TBI, and subsequent destructive behaviors that result. Our country is the greatest country in the world, is it too much to ask that our country take care of our returning sons and daughters after they have sacrificed so much?”

GF: Do you believe that Gathring your community to see Thank You For Your Service in theaters can insight change?

JK: Absolutely.  People don’t know what they don’t know.  Before I married my husband, I had no affiliation with family members in the military.  Veteran’s day and Memorial Day were always just a day off for me that I enjoyed.  Now I understand and appreciate the true meaning of these days at a minimum. War and the effects of war can be devastating for military and their families.  My husband was the most amazing, loving, and brilliant man I have ever met.  I will do everything in my power to help create awareness in memory of him and help others through Vetlinks so just maybe they won’t have to experience the devastation we have endured.

SK: I hope people will talk about this national tragedy, and communicate their concerns to community leaders, elected officials and military leaders to effect change.”

Thank You For Your Service is currently open to new screening requests and is exclusively available through Theatrical On Demand®. By gathering your community in a theater, you have the unique ability to start a conversation with other members of your community and more effectively spread awareness and incite change.

Bring this powerful film to your community by visiting today.