Vet Filmmaker Who Wrote “Sand Castle” Salutes His Generation

sand castle

By Debbie Gregory.

Screenwriter Chris Roessner, an Army and Iraq war veteran, turned his war experiences into the controversial Netflix film, Sand Castle.

The Canton, Ohio native grew up in rural Texas and joined the Army when he was 18, a few months before 9/11. Less than two years later he was deployed to Iraq, where he spent the next 14 months serving with a civil affairs unit attached to the 4th Infantry Division.

Roessner describes his deployment to Iraq as “the best and worst thing” that ever happened to him.

Roessner received the Tillman Foundation’s “Make Your Mark” award, and used the opportunity to address the criticism and stereotypes about his generation, often referred to as millennials.

Stereotypical millennials are lazy and entitled. But Roessner believes you can’t support the troops if you’re trashing the generation that’s actually doing the fighting.

“I’m of the opinion that one cannot disrespect our generation and respect the military at the same time. Those two thoughts are in opposition.”

He continued, “We are a group that has been asked to shoulder two of the longest wars in our country’s history, to weather a great recession, to surmount crippling student loan debt.”

There are many combat veterans who have criticized his work as narrow at best and “anti-war” at worst. But Roessner maintains that he wrote his story from his experiences, and encouraged those with a different view to write their own story.

“If I approach this film thinking that my job or my goal to write the film that resonates with every Iraq or Afghanistan war veteran, I would’ve never started,” Roessner said. “But I hope you write your film; I hope you write your book; I hope you do whatever you possibly can to have your story told.”

Roessner had been home from Iraq for more than seven years before he began working on the screenplay.

“Initially, I just wanted it to be cathartic,” he said. “I had no dreams whatsoever of it being made. I just wanted it to exist, so I at least knew that I tried to make some sense of this thing.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

How Will Millennials Affect the Military?


By Debbie Gregory.

There is a big difference between Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), Gen-xers (born between the mid-sixties and the early 80’s) and Millennials, who were born after Gen-x , up until around the time of the new millennium. But how will their service in today’s military fare against that of previous generations?

There are stereotypes that Millennials got rewarded just for “showing up.”  Are they too self- involved and reliant on social media to make good servicemembers? And how do you reach them when their heads are constantly buried in their smartphones?

Despite the social media memes questioning whether Millennials would have the guts to hop off a landing craft on Omaha Beach during the 1944 D-Day invasion, Millennials have fought, bled, and died in fierce combat from Fallujah to Marjah. Six out of the eleven servicemembers to be awarded the Medal of Honor for operations in Afghanistan have been Millennials.

As of 2014, the last year for which a full Defense Department-produced demographics report was done, about 4 in 5 active-duty service members were 35 years old or younger. Only 14.4 percent of the enlisted force was age 36 and up, and more than half the active-duty officer corps fell in the millennial bracket.

Raised in the digital age, Millennials have the ability to learn new systems, operate them efficiently, and deploy them quickly.

As they age, Millennials are increasingly choosing careers in military service. Millennials already make up the majority of the armed forces, and their influence will only continue to grow as the generation matures.

For some, the financial stability and excellent benefits pose an attractive alternative to the unreliable economy and job market they have known. For others, serving in the military meets their need for good, impactful work by serving their country.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.