By Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium
The movie “Thank You For Your Service” was more than a movie for me, it was a deeply moving experience that everyone should watch, especially if you have a loved one who served in the Global War on Terror.
I was in Iraq, for 15 months. I often feel like I was a well-armed, well-trained, well-paid tourist. My logistics job didn’t allow me to go out on patrols every day, though I would very much have wanted to. My brigade was in Iraq for so long because we were extended for the surge. We had more consecutive days in combat than any other unit, so I get it. I watched them load flag-draped coffins of ice with human remains on to aircraft, more than once. Having said that, I never saw anyone die, and I never fired a shot; my job did not require it.
When I heard about this movie, of course, I wanted to see it. I hoped that it was not some cheesy make a buck off the war movie that got everything wrong. I hoped there would be action. It was not that kind of a film. Instead, the story centered on one squad of soldiers and their squad leader on one or two days fighting in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Adam Schumann is on patrol in his convoy in a bustling city somewhere in central Iraq. This is about 2007-time frame, the same time I was there. The patrol goes terribly wrong, and there are casualties.
The movie fast-forwards to the soldiers’ arrival at their home base of Fort Riley, Kansas. From the combat patches worn by the soldiers, it can be guessed that they belong to the Big Red One, 1st Infantry Division. The soldiers are greeted by loved ones as they get off the plane, and then they attempt to re-integrate back into their regular lives. This story is poignant and sad as the soldiers fight their own battles at home, often alone without support. It is extremely aggravating to watch. Bring tissues, or just do what I did and wipe your nose on your spouse’s sleeve. What is especially maddening is that when the soldiers find that they do need help, they are often offered only roadblocks in the form of uncaring leadership, administrative buffoons, pride, laziness, greed, etc. One side note. I worked with many people who work for the VA, who care deeply about soldiers and want to help. So what I am about to say is not for them. Close your ears. If you are working for the VA and you don’t give a fuck about soldiers, only your big fat salary and bennies then you can go fuck off somewhere else. Heroes need to help heroes. You don’t have to have been a soldier, but you do have to give a fuck. Go find some other government cubicle to hide in, you worthless fucks.
Offended? Don’t care. Moving on.
This movie dramatically shows for the viewer the kind of internal struggle many of our soldiers go through, and when I say soldier, I mean everyone who has served, Airmen, Marines, Sailors, Coasties, everybody. Suicide, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, paranoia, grief and survivor’s guilt, it all hits you in the gut with this movie. I won’t ruin the plot further, just go see it, and be prepared to cry.
But it isn’t enough to just go to a movie and have a good cry. This movie is a call to action. Based on the book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize winner David Finkel, it is the directing debut of Jason Hall. Brilliant acting by lead actors Miles Teller as Schumann and Haley Bennett as his loving wife Saskia. Comedian Amy Schumer has a dramatic supporting role as a grieving widow. Good job to all. Their storytelling is more than just entertainment, they do great service for soldiers who have seen action and are now struggling.
As I said before, it isn’t enough to watch a movie and cathartic cry, this show is a call to action. The VA failures are not just the failures of big government bureaucracy; it is the failure of us all because we don’t care enough to fix it. When is the last time you’ve called up the VA and asked them for a report on how they are serving the soldier? When have you called your local representative? If the answer is no, I have to ask why not? What is stopping you? Do it tomorrow, won’t you? See this movie tomorrow and then go call someone and get them to see it.
Traumatic stress disorder is no joke. We’ve been at this global war for 16 years, and there is no sigh of let up. We lost four special operators in Niger last week. I wonder if mainstream America will ever come to realize that the problem of global terrorism is not going away and that the problem with the VA and with soldier mental and physical health is not going away. Would you want your children to suffer?
I can’t say enough about this movie, but I have to wrap up. Rotten Tomatoes gives this movie a giant golden tomato, which is good for them. We agree for once. I guess a blind monkey can find a banana in the jungle, because they are often wrong. Good for them for getting it right for once.