By Michael Schindler
“The real war began when I got home.”
This statement has stuck with me for a number of years. I was interviewing a soldier and his wife for the Operation Military Family book and he was describing his experiences in theater – which at the early stages of Iraq were not pretty – and what struck me most was that comment.
The real war does begin at home for close to 25 percent of our returning service members. Known in previous wars as hysteria, melancholia and shell shock, past and present warriors with what is now known as PTSD — if not addressed — often experienced or are experiencing increased substance abuse, domestic violence, financial trouble and even homelessness.
HBO Documentary Films, with executive producer James Gandolfini (yes, from “The Sopranos”), explores the history of post-traumatic stress disorder in the very impactful and insightful film “Wartorn: 1861 – 2010.” The DVD is available in stores May 17.
Entertainment Weekly describes Wartorn 1861-2010 is a “powerful documentary about the lingering effects of military conflict” while the Los Angeles Times says that it presents “the facts simply and gracefully, and the result is devastating.”
With suicide rates among active military servicemen and veterans currently on the rise, the film brings urgent attention to the invisible wounds of war, sharing stories through soldiers’ revealing letters and journals; photographs and combat footage; first-person interviews with veterans of WWII (who are speaking about their PTSD for the first time), the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom; and interviews with family members of soldiers with PTSD.
If you or someone you know has a loved one who is dealing with PTSD, “Wartorn 1861-2010” is a must-watch. The DVD includes an incredible panel discussion with some of the military’s top experts on PTSD, and you will walk away with a better understanding of this life-changing disorder and where to find support.
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.