Portsmouth soldier’s film tells of the hardships troops face leaving the military

Director Aaron Sayers, in red, interviews Veterans on the UK Veterans One Voice March from Whitehall
Director Aaron Sayers, in red, interviews Veterans on the UK Veterans One Voice March from Whitehall
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A soldier-turned-filmaker from Portsmouth is using his skills to shine a light on the plight of veterans struggling to get by on ‘civvy street’.

For almost a year, Aaron Sayers has been recording and directing his feature-length documentary, Chosen Men.

A lot of it is to do with this common misconception that veterans are in some way damaged either mentally of physically as a result of their service

Aaron Sayers, director

The film follows the journey of soldiers battling to get a job in the civilian world and the difficulties they face.

The work is supported by SAS legend and author Andy McNab, who is one of those interviewed by 34-year-old Aaron.

‘A lot of it is to do with this common misconception that veterans are in some way damaged either mentally of physically as a result of their service,’ said Aaron, of Owen Street, Eastney.

‘Veterans are not damaged. I think that’s the biggest challenge – particularly when guys go for interviews .

‘They lack that confidence because of how they have been perceived.’

Aaron’s filming started in June. Much of it has been recorded in Portsmouth and features soldiers from the city.

As well as interviewing McNab and other veterans, the 34-year-old has also spoken to leading political figures about the problems faced by retiring soldiers.

Aaron, a former Lance Corporal who served for four-and-a-half years in the army, says he has been luckier than most.

After leaving the Royal Green Jacket in 2002 he went to the University of Portsmouth to study film production and set up his production company Edengate Pictures. But many veterans, he says, aren’t so fortunate.

He explained a lot of the men he spoke to left the military with ‘unrealistic expectations’ and inadequate training.

Those who had only served for a short period of time, he said, were at most risk of struggling to get civilian work.

He explained he was determined to reveal the ‘lost voices’ of many service-leavers.

He added: ‘Where does the ability to locate and destroy the enemy go on the CV?’

Filming is almost completed. Next month Aaron aims to feature a trailer of Chosen Men at the Cannes Film Festival.

The documentary is scheduled for completion by the end of the year. For details, see chosenmenmovie.com.