Since the class’ final presentation, several things have happened that have caused us to reinvent the project – keeping the same general framework, but totally overhauling the interactions and audio. First, we were able to secure an interview with Kris, giving us an opportunity to collect audio whose flow we had more control over. Second, a version of Fairness for Veterans, the legislation currently on the table to help veterans with unfair less-than-Honorable discharges, passed as a rider on the Defense Authorization Act for 2016. This changes things, but the issue remains for a variety of reasons that are explored late in the new audio.
Kristofer Goldsmith was discharged from the US Army after a suicide attempt; eight years later, he’s still fighting to right that wrong.
Bad Paper is an installation exploring the struggles of a less-than honorable discharge from the U.S. Army. In the military, an honorable discharge offers the possibility of education, health benefits, and a lifelong recognition of service. A dishonorable discharge requires court marshal and is reserved for the most serious offenses. However, there are other types of discharges that fall in-between these two, which can be given for causes ranging from minor misconduct to traumatic brain injury, mental health status changes, sexual trauma, and prior to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, being LGBT. 13% of veterans since 9/11 have received one of these types of discharges, which leaves them without vital benefits, employment options, education access, or key medical services that, for people like Kristofer Goldsmith, can mean the difference between life and death.
Bad Paper follows Kris’ story, of his honorable service, traumatic experience, suicide attempt, and unceremonious “Bad Paper” discharge from the Army, in ten interactive vignettes. Eight years after his discharge, Kris is still seeking justice and benefits for him and all the veterans dismissed and cut off unfairly. In Bad Paper, audiences interact with objects to hear from Kris, as well as gain extra insight from lawyers and advocates fighting to change the military standards that cause honorable service to be rewarded only with lifelong loss.
The Interactions & Audio
When a user first begins the experience, they are handed the above instruction booklet, modeled after the Warrior Skills Level 1 book, a pair of headphones, and their fingerprint is “scanned,” starting the first audio clip. While it plays, they can interact with the army men toys however they wish. The audio focuses on Kris’ desire to join the military from a young age and the amplifying effect the attacks of 9/11 had on that desire.
Users will then move to a radio, where turning one of the knobs to the correct location will play the second audio clip. This clip focuses on Kris’ training as a Fire Support Specialist (AKA forward observer, FISTER).
The third interaction asks users to put an Army helmet on their heads. The audio component focuses on Kris’ expectations of deployment and his first moments in Iraq.
A flashlight and duffel bag (under the table with the above items) constitutes the fourth interaction. Users are instructed to assume the prone position on the floor with their head towards the bag and use the flashlight to explore the inside of the bag until audio plays. This audio focuses on the remainder of Kris’ deployment to Iraq.
PICTURE FOR 5, 6, 7:
5: ACE Card + Powerpoint
Instructions direct users to remove an ACE card from a scanner and look it over while listening to audio of Kris talking about his initial issues upon returning from Iraq and being “stoplossed”.
Users press a “push to talk” button on the table and must intervene in a suicide attempt by asking the questions as directed on the ACE card: “Are you thinking of killing yourself.” Audio will play describing Kris’ decision to take his own life.
7: Large Box
8: Cardboard Sign
10: NYE Glasses