An upcoming documentary will highlight the importance of employers taking care of veterans who have returned from war, and gone back into the work force as a first responder.
Burn Pits 360, with the help of a Houston-based company called Texas Watch, is working on the documentary. They’re calling on veteran-first responders to share their experience.
Part of the documentary was filmed at Burn Pits 360’s Warrior Support Center in Robstown. Veteran-first responders, like Michael Tamez, were interviewed about their experience integrating back into the workforce.
"I’ve had to come back and try to translate, I guess my emotions and everything that I’ve did in Iraq, to my work as a police officer," Tamez said.
Tamez is an army veteran and criminal investigator for the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office. Tamez has been in law enforcement for 18 years, getting called to serve in Iraq from 2009-2010. He once recalls a frustrating conversation with his employer when he returned from deployment.
"I’ve seen, I don’t want to say the ugly side of some situations," Tamez said. "But I’ve seen the side of people that just don’t understand."
When Tamez was overseas, he served during a holiday. But the following year, Tamez wanted the holiday off.
"The previous New Years, I got mortared in rocket fire," Tamez said. "I didn’t get to have New Years Eve like most people did."
The response from his boss took Tamez by surprise.
"I was told, ‘look, we’ve been ordered, you’re going to work it.’ I rebutteled," Tamez said. "And he said, ‘nobody made you go to Iraq.’"
Tamez, like other veteran-first responders believe employers should be understanding of such things like adequate military leave, sick time, or a support. The documentary, an effort to shed light on that topic.
Leroy Torres, the founder of Burn Pits 360, is also an army veteran who returned from the military to become a police officer. As the founder, Torres has advocated for supporting those who served. Torres says employers should also make an effort to support their employees.
"Take some time to talk to your veterans," Torres said. "A lot of times, you have to be just open with them and be appropriate, and take care of your veterans."?
The project is an on-going effort and is in need of more veteran-first responders to share their story. For more information about the documentary or how you can share your experience, click here. Or call 361-816-4015.