Free Speech Film Festival

Speak EZ Interview with Major Gloria Downey

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Gloria, known as Major or The Glorious G, has an impressive background as a prosecutor, where she tackled cases involving rapists and terrorists in the United States Air Force. During her military service, she actively fought against military sexual trauma and also worked under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, defending and prosecuting cases.

Motivated by the events of 9/11, Gloria took a remarkable leap of faith at the age of 30. Despite facing long odds and lacking the same pedigree as other lawyers, she competed to become a JAG, a Judge Advocate General. This prestigious position had a selection rate of only 10 percent at the time. To her surprise, she was selected and went on to become a highly respected and successful JAG officer, earning the admiration of enlisted personnel, opposition, superiors, and peers alike.

From 2002 to 2009, Gloria served during the intense periods of the post-9/11 war era, providing unwavering support to warfighters throughout her tenure. It was during her deployment to Baghdad in 2007 that she sustained a significant injury while prosecuting terrorists in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. However, upon her return, instead of receiving the healthcare she urgently needed, she was given a bag of pills by the Air Force.

Facing attempts to redeploy her despite her injuries, Gloria decided to pursue medical retirement. In 2009, she was permanently retired from the Air Force, achieving the rank of Major on the same day. Seeking proper medical care, she turned to the VA but found herself buried in pills and apathy, rather than receiving the necessary healthcare and support. The financial burden of being medically retired without combat recognition, accurate disability compensation, or post-injury support took a toll on her, eventually leading her to struggle with housing affordability.

In 2012, Gloria made the decision to return to school, utilizing her G.I. Bill benefits as a means to secure housing and pursue the healthcare she desperately needed for a chance at leading a fulfilling life again. It was during this period of academic pursuit that she discovered her lifelong passion for film. She completed her MFA in Directing at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 2015.

Gloria's student thesis film, titled "Forgive Me Father," showcased her talent as a director and was screened in seven film festivals. In 2015, she gained recognition for her exceptional work, receiving a nomination for Best Director at AAU's NXTUp! awards. The film portrayed the complexities of an injured terrorist and his U.S. soldier guard, highlighting the notion that in the war of God vs. God, no one truly wins.

In 2017, Gloria underwent her first surgery related to her time in Iraq. Since then, she has dedicated herself to learning how to heal, both for herself and for others. Her passion for filmmaking continued to grow, leading her to produce her second film, a feature documentary called "Women of War: Invisible". It premiered at the Lady Filmmaker's Film Festival in 2021 and went on to win the Best Feature award.

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