Iowa City VA Health Care System
VA employee featured in movie The Outpost
Katie Kopp could not believe it when she opened her email to see a request from a Hollywood director, asking to speak with her about her experiences in Afghanistan as a brigade psychologist. That email came almost 2 years ago, and now Kopp’s name appears in the credits on The Outpost, a new movie released on July 3rd. She is played by a British actress, Celina Sinden.
“It’s definitely surreal,” she said. “I’m so glad that the stories of the Soldiers I deployed with are being told and that the director chose to include the mental health struggles that some heroes go through after huge battles.”
The movie focuses on the events of October 3, 2009, when a small outpost manned by 53 U.S. Soldiers was attacked by roughly 400 Taliban. While the Soldiers were ultimately successful in defeating the Taliban, it was not without great cost. Eight Soldiers were killed and many more were wounded physically and mentally. The Battle of Kamdesh, as it became known, gained notoriety as one of the deadliest of the war in Afghanistan and resulted in two living Medal of Honor recipients (SSG Clint Romesha and SSG Ty Carter) in addition to many other Soldiers awarded for heroism.
“Part of my job as the brigade psychologist was to work with the squadron chaplain to meet with all of the oldiers after the fact for group debriefings and to offer individual counseling,” Kopp said. She acknowledged that it was challenging but rewarding work to help Soldiers process such intense levels of trauma. “We had some very long days. It takes a lot to debrief a 12-hour firefight.”
Kopp attended a screening of the movie in October 2019, at the 10-year anniversary of the battle, with many of the surviving Soldiers and the some of the Gold Star family members. She said that while the movie is hard for anyone to watch, it was especially difficult to know that family members were watching the deaths of their loved ones on the screen. “I know that the more people who see the movie, the more people who learn the names of the fallen Soldiers. It’s not important to me that I’m involved with the project, but it is important that you know my brothers in arms who sacrificed everything: Griffin, Gallegos, Hardt, Scusa, Kirk, Thomson, Martin, and Mace.”
Kopp left active duty service in 2013. She continued to work for the Army as a civilian for several years before joining the VA in September 2019. She now works as a psychologist in the Dubuque VA Oupatient Clinic.
You can see the trailer for the movie here.