IN 2019, I DIDN’T THINK ABOUT IT

“We’re not victims, we’re survivors.”

Read Ashlei’s story of resilience below.

IN 2019, I DIDN’T THINK ABOUT IT

“We’re not victims, we’re survivors.”

Read Ashlei’s story of resilience below.

“My desire to work in the entertainment industry just made sense. Growing up, I’d watch my grandfather, Michael Jackson’s bodyguard, and I found that whole world magical.” Ashlei set her sights on a career in film and television early. A job as a grip on the show Ghost Whisperer led to other production roles on dozens of other sets. Until a friend, the tactical advisor on Castle, asked if she wanted to get “shot.” That was the beginning of a career working stunts. Ashlei had always been good at sports, strong in most things connected to her ability, and there was a need for Black stunt women in Hollywood. It was the wild ride that fit her to a tee.

TROUBLE STRIKES

In college, Ashlei eloped with her boyfriend who was a Marine. They had a child, a boy they named Matthew. Ashlei’s career was moving along, she was a military wife, a new mother—things were good. Until they were not. What at first seemed a happy union, soon revealed a darker side, one that eventually turned dangerous, with a tragic ending.

Watch Danai Gurira share Ashlei’s
poignant story of survival.

Watch Danai Gurira share Ashlei’s
poignant story of survival.

VETERANS BENEFITS

When the abuse started, Ashlei packed her bags and left. Walking away became more complicated when she learned she was pregnant. Yet as much as they might try, PTSD and other factors proved too strong a force, and Ashlei’s former husband, Matthew’s father, took his own life.

For Ashlei and Matthew, a new set of trauma settled in. That’s when they met Naomi Rodda, Director Home & Community Based Services and primary lead for Veterans Benefits Assistance at MPTF. When Ashlei researched what Veterans support might be available to her son, she learned that in order for survivor benefits to be awarded, she would need to prove that Matthew’s father’s suicide was related to a preexisting PTSD diagnosis.

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VETERANS SUPPORT

MPTF offers Veterans Benefits Assistance to entertainment industry members with military service, their surviving spouses, and industry members’ parents who served. The program’s mission is to assist veterans and their families in securing pension monies to increase financial stability and promote healing from service-related experiences. Securing the rightful benefits of military service can be difficult and confusing, yet they are also a crucial lifeline for many. In 2021, MPTF proudly announced a $1M milestone of retroactive pension monies secured on behalf of industry veterans, their surviving spouses, and parents who served. And with the help of MPTF’s Veterans Benefits Assistance program, the Veterans Administration acknowledged PTSD as a cause of Ashlei’s ex-husband’s death, thereby unlocking a survivor’s pension and other benefits for Matthew.

Please support MPTF’s good works
for the entertainment community.
We are 100% dedicated to you.

Please support MPTF’s good works
for the entertainment community.
We are 100% dedicated to you.

THE SAFETY NET FOR AN INDUSTRY

MPTF offers a wide range of services that seek to fulfill all kinds of needs for an industry of people who often work paycheck to paycheck, job to job. Planning financially for the future and coping through a pandemic can be even more challenging under these circumstances. For an industry that entertains us through thick and thin, we hope you will consider supporting MPTF and the good work we do in the community. For the miles of names that roll after any movie or show and well beyond, MPTF is a safety net in times of trouble.

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