CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — You may recognize the face and work of Sam Medina, acting alongside Hollywood favorites like Mark Walhberg in movies like Mile 22.
But these days, Medina is on a different mission. He’s now looking out for those who watched over him - when he was a child - growing up in war-torn Saigon, Vietnam in the early 1970's.
American service members fought for Medina’s people of South Vietnam and against a growing threat of Communism in that unpopular war.
“I was one of this little kids in the Vietnam War,” recalled Medina. “It carried with me tremendously to now. I don’t think it will ever go away. “
Medina’s family eventually moved to the United States. He moved to Hollywood for acting and now resides in New Orleans.
Medina recently traveled to Corpus Christi to help promote his new movie, 22: The Unforgotten Soldier.
Although he has not served in military service, he has seen firsthand what combat can do to a war-fighter's soul.
“It’s a shock. It’s a shell shock. And all of those things that can happen it war,” said Medina. “There’s casualties. And as human beings we’re not always ready and prepped and equipped to deal with those things.”
In the movie "22", Medina (Daniel Hernandes), served his country as a Marine in the Afghanistan War. After suffering from wounds received during an enemy ambush, Hernandes loses the use of his legs. He feels useless that he no longer could continue to serve in the military. Like many others in life who suffer from anxiety and PTSD, in the movie, Hernandes contemplates ending his life. But then he meets Chuck Rooney in a Veteran’s Court. It’s a program in where veterans help each other transition into civilian life.
The two men, Rooney, a real life Vietnam War Veteran and Hernandes, comfort one another to avoid ending up like 22 Veterans who commit suicide every day.
“The war doesn’t stop once you get home. The battle still goes on in your head. Your heart. Emotionally physically mentally all of that and it is a hardship that the veterans carry with them for the rest of their lives,” said Medina.
Off-screen, Medina and Rooney met each other after almost two decades in acting school. Medina knew he would eventually include Rooney in a project that told the realistic story of the impacts of war. Rooney was the perfect partner for this project.
“I was just trying to think okay … how can I make a story to honor him because I feel like a lot of our Vietnam War Veterans have been forgotten about as well. “
Medina is now spearheading a program that welcomes veterans to attend group sessions that watch his movie and then talk and support one another.
22: The Unforgotten Soldier is available on Amazon Prime Video andTubi TV.
More Veterans In Focus stories are available here, along with resources for local veterans.
Contact Veterans In Focus reporter Pat Simon at email@example.com