Mattoon Native Blake Leitch will be featured in a documentary produced by father and son duo Kurt and Nick Gerber entitled “Operation Route 66.” The documentary features veterans across America telling their stories about experiences in the Middle East, and at home, as the Gerbers travel from Chicago to Los Angeles along historic Route 66. The documentary will be screened at the Fields Church at 5:30 p.m. in Mattoon on Saturday. There is no cost to attend.
Leitch, who served in the U.S. Army for a combined seven years, was wounded in Iraq by an I.E.D. (improvised explosive device) before returning home in 2005. He said that the film helps to accurately portray what it’s like for combat veterans recuperating after war.
He said that it felt natural telling his story to the Gerbers because it is his story.
Coming home from Iraq was, according to Leitch, the worst time of his life. He had to undergo multiple facial reconstruction surgeries from his I.E.D. wound, but did say that the downtime allowed him to reconnect with his wife. Leitch said that if he wasn’t injured, he and his wife might not still be together today. In that regard he remarked “me being injured was the best thing that ever happened to me because if I wasn’t, I don’t know if we’d still be together.”
Leitch said that he hopes the film will help give civilians a glance at the struggles that veterans face and to show that they’re just trying to put their lives back together after returning home.