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Student Recognized for Documentary on Military Medical Center

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2007 – It’s hard enough for adults to get their voices heard in Washington, let alone a teenager.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Ian Scott Wilson, 13, (left) meets with Dr. S. Ward Casscells, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, July 24, 2007, at the Pentagon. Casscells wanted to express his gratitude for Wilson’s efforts in making an award-winning short documentary about the poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Wilson’s film also included the Army’s efforts to correct the problems. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Ian Scott Wilson, 13, however, discovered a positive way to grab attention with his award-winning documentary, “When the Boys Come Home.” The 10-minute film tells the story of poor conditions discovered earlier this year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here and the Army’s efforts to correct the problems.

The film, which won first place in the middle school division of C-SPAN’s “Student Cam” contest, also garnered him an audience with Dr. S. Ward Casscells, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

Casscells expressed his pride in Wilson and thanked him for his efforts to even-handedly tell the story of Walter Reed’s recent tribulations.

“What struck me is that he was so measured in his approach to things,” said Casscells, who has children Wilson’s age. “For a 13-year-old to grasp the shades of gray in this and not have a simplistic answer, to me, is amazing.

“I hope other kids will see you can get attention to your views without having extreme views,” he added.

Casscells presented Wilson, his mother, Julie, younger sister Katherine and brother Sean with his commemorative coin. He thanked Wilson’s family for supporting the aspiring filmmaker’s efforts.

Walter Reed was the hot topic in all the newspapers when Wilson was deciding what his 10-minute entry into C-SPAN’s contest should focus on. But it was the personal angle that truly inspired him to embrace the project so passionately.

“My brother is in the Army, and if he was hurt and had to go through the treatment (patients) went through at Walter Reed, he’d be wrecked,” he said.

His brother, Army Sgt. Gordon Hamm, is serving in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division. Though the two didn’t grow up together, Wilson said, they’re close.

“When the Boys Come Home” included “man-on-the-street” interviews and C-SPAN footage of congressional hearings on the conditions at Walter Reed. It also included information on the Army’s efforts to fix the problems.

Wilson, who is considering joining the Navy when he’s old enough, said that gathering information for the film wasn’t the hard part, however. “The hardest part was editing and getting all the different bits in the right spot,” he said.

That minor difficulty didn’t deter him, though, and the aspiring filmmaker already has started on his second documentary. This time he’ll tackle how young people under 18 can influence the 2008 elections. He was able to gather one more interview today when he turned his camera on Casscells to get his opinion on the topic.

The first-place he earned with “When the Boys Come Home,” came with a $1,000 prize that he has grand plans for, though they don’t involve new video equipment or editing software.

“I’m giving it to a soldier (at Walter Reed),” he said. “They’re the ones that defend us, that make us able to even buy that stuff. I just thought that that’s the least we can do.”

Before long, the soon-to-be former-Virginian will have a new world to document when his family moves to Cairo, Egypt, where his mother will continue her job with the U.S. Agency for International Development. This will be the family’s second posting in the country.

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Dr. S. Ward Casscells

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