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GE’s support of film earns praise from veterans

Thomas Champion hangs up a poster advertising the film “American Veteran,” which will be screened by GE as part of the ReelAbilities Film Festival. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — They served their country in different places at different times, but three River Works employees praised General Electric for helping support a film that examines a veteran’s struggle from tragedy to triumph.

“This movie is about a life-changing event and a person with a positive outlook. That resonates with me,” said Thomas Champion, an Army veteran and GE business executive.

Champion and fellow Army veteran Brian Reczek and Marine Corps veteran Sam Alyassini said GE’s support for the ReelAbilities Film Festival, including the April 2 screening of “American Veteran” at the Showcase Cinemas de Lux in Revere, is appreciated but not a surprise to veterans who work the sprawling West Lynn plant.

“There’s very much a family feeling here,” Champion said.

“American Veteran” chronicles the five-year time span from the explosion in Afghanistan that left Sgt. Nick Mendes paralyzed, to his marriage to his caregiver and decision to study for and earn a real estate license.

The film will be shown at 6:30 p.m. following a 5 p.m. light dinner at the Sheraton Four Points Logan Airport. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion.

The evening is being held in conjunction with GE’s Veterans Network, People with Disabilities Network and the firm’s Military System Operations network overseeing military-related production.

“This is another way to connect with our very active support of veterans,” GE aviation global communications representative Richard Gorham said.

Reczek, of Lynn, served 16 years in the National Guard and deployed overseas twice. He said GE’s support for “American Soldier” and for veterans underpins the important family support he relied on while stationed in Kuwait.

“You deploy knowing someone cares,” Reczek said.

Alyassini deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan six times beginning in 2002. He took advantage of the GI Bill to get trained as an engineer and started at the River Works two years ago.

He said a societal understanding of the adjustments veterans face, even if they don’t experience the catastrophic changes Mendes endured, is important.

“Nobody ever picks up where they left off. It’s never easy,” he said.

Champion recalled preparing in 2004 for a year-long deployment to Iraq and realizing his GE benefits, including job security, provided him with peace of mind.

He said a fellow veteran he served with experienced the challenges Mendes faced and endured through his struggles to become an inspiration.

“It’s not just the soldier that goes through the changes; it’s the family,” Champion said.

For more information on the April 2 screening, contact Marc.Joslow@ge.com or Ellen.Ellsworth@ge.com.

 

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