A precursor prior to this review, I suffer and have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, AKA as PTS. This disorder comes about from various sources, primarily in women, through sexual assault and abuse, and in men largely from war related stress. Over the last few years other sources have come to the forefront which contribute to this diagnosis, it could be men or women who have been sexually abused, seen or experienced traumatic events in their life, even rescue workers like police and firemen. WARTORN, 1861-2010 focuses specifically on the Post Traumatic Stress that has come about in war situations, for individuals in the military, from the Civil War up through and including The War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. While this is the primary focus, the impact of this disorder is largely consistent among all groups and thus the education provided through this film, could be life changing and life saving. On the surface, after 3 viewings of this 1 hour documentary my opinions have been challenged and the thought provoking images while extremely disturbing. I also realize that the images and stories can provide understanding for this unfortunate disorder.
My initial reaction to the film was one many have; ‘How can anyone support the concepts of war after seeing this documentary?’ It is troubling and on the surface, having the potential to be very damaging to the cause of military recruitment. The 1-hour documentary produced for HBO by James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano from The Soprano’s) tells the stories of various soldiers and the impact of war and trauma from the perspective of the soldiers themselves. In fact, one aspect quite surprising about this documentary is the endorsement and support of the USA Military Forces. They are even using the film, and the cause to better educate soldiers, politicians, and families of the need to treat and understand this disorder. I can’t help but give a hearty stand up ovation to the military for their willingness to seriously address this issue as can be seen in the attached video with this review.
WARTORN is a haunting documentary of war and its horrors. It leads to the understanding that few actually understand the horror of war better than the military soldier who has experienced it first hand. It is easy for those who have never been on a battlefield to think they have an understanding of war. Surprising to some, the most outspoken and reluctant to go to war are often those who have been there. The horrors that exist in the aftermath of battle are powerfully presented. The images are as horrific and brutal as anything presented on film, because the images of the broken and brutal bodies are those of real men and women. In the power of the presentation, from the reality of the telling, we also feel as much of the pain as we can and our hearts break for the families.
In a world and in a faith where war is often discouraged and the participation from a faith perspective for many is also discouraged, I couldn’t help but wonder, in a Church where we used to have various perspectives on war, do we, including the military and families of the military now take the reality of war and its horrors too lightly. There was once a faith perspective among people of faith called the, Just War Theory. It was the perspective many people of faith took. There was also a common perspective, held by many within various faith groups as to whether or not people of faith, especially Christians should participate in war at all. In this belief system, there were many who recognized the role of the government in fighting its battles, at times, being the hand which God used to execute vengeance and justice.
Regardless of the belief system many take regarding war, it is incredible to see the U.S. military among the leaders in the study of the impact of war, even recognizing the need to seriously address Post Traumatic Stress that lasts for many, a lifetime. When young men and women are put into circumstances where their lives are impacted to the point of having life long nightmares, episodes of violent explosions, and a high risk of suicide, I have to wonder, where the church has been, no matter what their perspective in addressing these issues? WARTORN is a film that should be seen and discussed, even with its brutal images. It needs to be seen and discussed from a faith perspective because we have more people suffering from this disease and disorder than ever before. If we don’t address it, the long-term horrors and impact of war will be long lived after the battles are over. Unfortunately, suicide rates are as high as ever and as many as 30% of soldiers returning from the battle field now suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I can’t say I love WARTORN; it is heartbreaking, challenging, and sad. I will say, I hope, and pray for the possibilities of this documentary. The film, along with the special feature of The Pentagon’s Post-Premiere Panel Discussion is educational and a must view by virtually every soldier, potential soldier, their families, or any other population group, especially, the church and people of faith. Taken straight from the battlefield and from the lives of families left behind, this documentary will leave an impact on all who view it. What they do with that impact, how they react will be the continuation of how the story ends. I will hold to my first thought, I would hope that every soldier and every family member would see this film prior to enlisting in the military. I would also hope that as suggested by a general in the Pentagon Discussion on the special features, that a mandatory education also takes place helping each and every soldier returning home also take place with each and every soldier and their families prior to their return from the battlefield.
It is rare that a documentary can tell such a moving tale in such a short period of time. WARTORN accomplishes the rare and has the potential to change lives for the better for many men and women who deserve our very best, including their treatment and assistance for the damage from war we often don’t see, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
To see the trailer posted below click on the video. If the video isn’t at full scale or doesn’t show up, click on the following link:
The following is a 30 minute discussion from the Pentagon Discussion regarding this film:
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