– By AW2 Spouse Tiffany Martin –
Martin Family Big Bird’s Nest In September of 2008, we were contacted by Lookalike Production on behalf of Sesame Workshop on the possibility of doing a television special on Wounded Warriors and their families coping with their injuries. My husband Michael was injured in Iraq on February 29th of 2004 and now has a TBI and PTSD as a result from the IED blast. After many conversations with the production assistant Becca, we began to talk to the producers. The producers decided that they would like to use our family, because we had smaller children and Michael had a TBI. We spoke with them for a few weeks and talked about how Michael had originally got injured and what it was like living with our new normal.
In November they sent down a camera crew along with the production assistant and one of the producers to start the filming. They were here when we woke up, and they were there when we went to bed. They followed the girls to school and went fishing with Michael. When they found out that we were going down to Disney World for the Road to Recovery Conference, they had decided to come down there and video tape some stuff there also.
In January of 2009, they invited us up to Queens, NY to the set of Sesame Street to film the actual television show. Michael was a little leery on how it was all going to go, but they made every possible effort to make sure that there were not too many bright lights or flashes.
We drove up on a Wednesday and met with the producer on Thursday night to view the documentary that they had done on us. After seeing the piece, I was in tears. To see that the first five minutes were so powerful, I was excited to see how the rest of the show would unfold. It made me realize what we had been through. Friday, we went to the set to get familiar with the cast and where we were going to be. They had decided that we were going to be inside of Hooper’s store for our part of the show. It was like going back into my childhood by being on set. They let us sit in Big Bird’s nest and stand inside of Oscar’s can, but sitting on the steps of 123 Sesame Street was the best! Watching the kids interact with the puppets was a lot of fun too. Saturday was the longest day we had. We arrived on set at 10:30 in the morning, and didn’t hear “That’s a Wrap” until 11:45 at night.
In March we were invited to the Pentagon to attend the pre-screening with the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Mr. Lynn, and the Secretary of the VA, Mr. Shinseki. We were fortunate enough to see Lieutenant General Rochelle while we were up there also. We went on a tour of the Pentagon and met a lot of wonderful people. Elmo and Rosita came down there along with many of the Sesame Street personnel. It was great to see everyone again.
The whole experience was an absolute blast, but the whole reason for doing the special was so that other families would know that they are not alone. Families need to know that at the end of the day, things do get better and every day is a blessing. Sometimes you have to seek help on your own, but knowing that there are people that are there that want to help, makes it much easier.