Honoring Veterans, Public TV Series Explores Issues Facing Minnesota Soldiers, Families

TPT producer Luke Heikkila, of Roseville, oversaw creation of the latest public service series, "Bridging War & Hope."

Continuing a partnership it began in 2005 with the Minnesota National Guard, Twin Cities Public Televison (TPT) will air the latest in a series of programs this month telling the stories of Minnesota soldiers and their families.

And the work of a Roseville resident, Luke Heikkila, was instrumental in assembling the project, according to National Guard representatives.

The newest partner project is "Bridging War & Hope," featuring 22 National Guard members who returned in October from a year in Afghanistan working with farmers through their local agricultural ministries to improve production and expand the marketing of their products, according to a TPT news release.  This and several more tpt-produced shows will air around Veteran’s Day, Nov.11, tpt officials added.
“For the second time in three years, tpt producer Luke Heikkila has personally traveled to a combat zone so that he could share with viewers, the challenges, successes and sacrifice of our citizen-soldiers and their families,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, director of public affairs for the Minnesota National Guard.  “We sincerely appreciate tpt’s commitment to telling the stories of the men and women in the Minnesota National Guard.”
Through tpt’s Minnesota Partnerships initiative, Heikkila has produced several  documentaries and series with the Minnesota National Guard, Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and health organizations to increase understanding and support for soldiers and veterans and their families during and after their deployments, the public TV network said.
“Bridging War & Hope is a one-of-a-kind look into a very unique mission that will bring enduring economic stability to the people of Afghanistan,” said Olson.  He said one of Heikkila’s films-" Iraq and Back:  Minnesotans’ Stories,"-is being used for training Guard troops before deployment.
TPT said it will broadcast these special programs in November in honor of Veteran’s Day. (Air times follow):
 Joining Forces (4-part series airs Nov. 4, 11, 18, 25) - In collaboration with HealthPartners Institute for Medical Education, tpt produced a series of four episodes to discuss health issues affecting Minnesota’s soldiers, including traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Medical experts shed light on the struggles they’ve seen in Minnesota soldiers and describe the adjustment process soldiers and their families endure.  
Iraq and Back: Minnesotans’ Stories (airs Nov. 11, 18) - A 2009 regional Emmy nominee, this documentary follows five soldiers and their families from the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Infantry Red Bull Division as they endure a year-long deployment to Basra, Iraq.  This program illustrates how they cope with the time spent away from each other.   Heikkila traveled to Basra, Iraq and learned first-hand what soldiers and their families experience during a deployment.
-Bridging War & Hope (airs Nov. 11, 18) - Located in some of the poorest, most-austere surroundings imaginable, the National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team is bridging war and hope by providing opportunities to Afghan farmers.
Here is a more detailed TV schedule:

 Joining Forces (4-part series)
-       “Home Again” – Nov. 4 at 6:30pm;  Nov. 11 at 12:30am, 6:30am, 12:30pm; Nov. 11(tpt LIFE) 11:00am
-       “On the Mend” – Nov. 11 at 6:30pm; Nov. 18 at 12:30am, 6:30am, 12:30pm;  Nov. 18 (tpt LIFE), 11:30am
-       “Grey Matters” - Nov. 18 at 6:30pm;  Nov. 25 at 12:30am, 6:30am, 12;30pm; Nov. 25 (tpt LIFE), 11:00am
-       “Breaking Point” - Nov. 25 at 6:30pm (tpt MN)
Bridging War & Hope
-       Nov. 11 at 9:00pm;  Nov. 18 at 3:00am, 9:00am, 3:00pm (tpt MN)
 Iraq and Back: Minnesotans’ Stories
-       Nov. 11 at 10:00pm;  Nov. 18 at 4:00am, 10:00am, 4:00pm (tpt MN)

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