HOMEMADE is a five year, cinematic and intimate journey about a marriage, invisible wounds and the effects of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and addiction. Weaving between the monumental landscapes of Utah, Washington DC landmarks, cinéma vérité scenes and recorded phone calls, HOMEMADE bares witness to the lives of Adam Sorensen and his family as they navigate life after combat.
HOMEMADE was developed from the idea that the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) goes off twice; once in the field, affecting each individual differently depending on a variety of factors including proximity to the blast, physical position and past injuries. There is a second blast that goes off in each family living room as a result of the actual explosion. It’s footprint reaches our closest loved ones, the physicians treating the wounded, and extends into our communities. The film examines the culture of treating symptoms instead of cause and the disconnect between medical care and true wellness. Themes addressed include continuity of care, the epidemic of over-prescription in both military and civilian care, and the stereotypes of injured combat veterans.
HOMEMADE aims to close the empathy gap between civilian and military communities, start productive dialogues about the challenge of transition from active duty military to retired, and provide audiences with an abundance of tools in order to take action. We are developing a dynamic and measurable impact campaign to highlight and amplify the work already being done to support returning military and their families.
Staff Sergeant Adam Sorensen, a highly decorated Force Reconnaissance Marine was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) October 26, 2010 in Sangin, Afghanistan. He was standing next to his fellow Marine, Jonathon Blank, who stepped on the device, losing both legs. The blast left shrapnel and shards of Jonathon’s bone throughout Adam’s back and head. The concussive effects of the blast caused Adam to be diagnosed with TBI and PTS.
Upon his return, Adam remains on active duty and while stationed in San Diego he meets Victoria at a bar. They fall deeply in love and marry three months later. Together they move to Fort Benning, Georgia, where Adam is transferred to teach at the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. Despite his injuries Adam is a high functioning Marine and at the request of his wife decides to go to Officer Candidate School (OCS) in order to advance his military career and pursue his education.
Victoria, unhappy in their Georgia home and grieving the loss of her father, begins to experience advanced symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). She is prescribed painkillers and begins receiving treatment to reduce the fusion of her spine. Adam’s job requires him to be away for several days a week, which begins to wear on their relationship. Hopeful that these pressures will change, the young couple plan the next chapter in their lives together.
The camera follows as the two pack up their home in Columbus, GA and prepare to move to Salt Lake City. Despite his injuries and subsequent short term memory loss, Adam decides to attend Officer Candidacy School and graduates as an honor graduate breaking several United States Marine Corps (USMC) records during the process.
Facebook posts track the Sorensen's first, seemingly, happy year in Salt Lake City. The University of Utah recognizes Adam as Veteran of the Year in 2014, the same month he takes a loaded weapon out in front of Victoria and her mother and contemplates suicide. Adam retains a 4.0 GPA as he begins to seek professional help but Victoria soon discovers the extent of her husband’s addiction and depression when Adam shatters her trust by repeatedly stealing her pain medications.
Short term memory loss, anxiety, depression and addiction infiltrate Adam’s daily life. As friends and family continue to reach out, Adam falls deeper into the world of prescription "cocktails", in-patient hospitals, and self isolation. Jonathon Blank, visiting his home in Kansas, observes that many of the men he served with didn't start having problems until 5 years out of active combat, and he reflects on the difficulty of his injury but admits that the hardest part of returning from combat is heartbreak.
In an effort to save their marriage, Adam and Victoria attend therapy. Adam stops drinking and soon after that he experiences a panic attack and is sent to the Emergency Room. He is prescribed a Xanax and released. Feeling compromised and unsafe, Adam decides to withdraw from school and a few days later he checks himself into a week of inpatient care at Lakeview Hospital.
Spring of 2015 Adam drifts in and out of rehab for Substance Abuse and Post Traumatic Stress. Victoria, also becoming increasingly sick, considers divorce. The number of medications Adam is prescribed continues to grow as the doctors try to find the right “cocktail.” However, Adam’s motivation, physical well being, and strength continue to decline.
After three suicide scares, six hospitalizations, and one jail sentence, Adam and Victoria finalize their divorce. Adam goes though the process of Medical Discharge under the care of the Marine Corps at Wounded Warrior Battalion West and is eventually retired in Spring of 2017. As the two seek wellness and independence from the relationship and the military, they reveal their determination to heal from invisible wounds and disease.