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Thursday, July 18, 2019

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Military Veteran Video Project documents UH soldiers


Ryan "Iggy" Harrison began his Military Veteran Project back in 2012, which looks into the views of fellow veterans.

Ryan “Iggy” Harrison began his Military Veteran Project back in 2012, which looks into the views of fellow veterans. | Sara Samora/The Cougar

When Ryan “Iggy” Harrison was deployed to Iraq, a soldier on the base would write a newsletter and send it home to families and friends, a taste of what life was like for their loved ones.

But for Harrison, the newsletter only gave one side of the deployment. He took it upon himself to interview the soldiers who were out on a daily basis, giving the family and friends a look at the daily heat and grind.

From this experience, Harrison knew he wanted to do right with his latest endeavor: the Military Veteran Video Project.

Harrison said he didn’t know what he was doing. Apparently, the audio was horrible.

“It irks me so much that I didn’t have good audio, because I had a lot of friends that I interviewed (in Iraq) that are no longer with us,” Harrison said. “I feel so bad for (the) families that didn’t get to hear their words.”

Harrison – who works as a systems analyst at the University – joined the U.S. Army a few months prior to 9/11 and served for five years. In 2009, he began attending UH to pursue a degree in management information systems.

It was not until later in his academic career that he learned about RED Labs, a program in which mentors help students improve their technical or medical innovation ideas.

“I was told by everybody I would really enjoy it,” Harrison said. “I had no idea of what I was doing.”

At the beginning of the program, Harrison and his classmates were told to partner up and think of a project idea. Harrison had 14 ideas that he and his partner narrowed down to focus on veterans.

In 2012, Harrison began the project of recording veteran interviews.

“Since I’m a veteran, I kind of got this idea based on life events and people that I’ve lost,” Harrison said.

Kinesiology junior Michael Castro said he would participate in Harrison’s project.

“I want a portal where veterans can go and see other veterans.”

– Ryan “Iggy” Harrison

“In my experience, veterans disappear from the limelight after they get out of the service, and a lot of family members worry about them,” Castro said. “A lot of friends say, ‘Hey, it’s been five years. Didn’t he get out of the Marine Corps or the Army? Where has he been?’”

Harrison said he would interview any veteran. At the moment, however, he is working on getting the equipment.

That’s where GoFundMe comes in. The site’s goal is $4,300. With the funds he has received so far, Harrison has purchased an encoder.

With an Aug. 29 deadline, the funds will also help him with Wirecast, Harrison’s preferred live-streaming software, and what he’s used to.  The bulk of the funds will go toward purchasing a MacBook Pro.

And if he reaches his goal by August? He will shave his beard and long locks off on live stream.

“With GoFundMe, I was focused on it being friends and family to help support me,” Harrison said. “So I thought if I promoted (shaving), then I can draw up more support.”

Ultimately, Harrison’s goal is to provide a space to remember and give support to veterans.

“I want a portal where veterans can go and see other veterans,” Harrison said. “The friends that they’ve been in units with, that possibly were in the same unit, but decades apart.”

[email protected]

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