“Thank You for Your Service” is a feel-bad movie. That it makes you feel bad for the plight of woefully mistreated Iraq War veterans is ultimately good. The movie isn’t easy to watch. But it is a “message” movie in the best sense of the word.
The film is based on a nonfiction book of the same name by David Finkel, about returning soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. The stories are not pretty. Neither are they hopeful.
An Army officer in the movie states that 22 veterans take their own lives every day. That’s not just a statistic, it’s a PTSD plague. This film is about that plague.
It focuses on the lives of five men in an Army unit stationed in Iraq. One soldier, played by Brad Beyer, returns to find that his wife has left him, taking their baby with her. Another, played by Beulah Koale, is struggling with severe short-term memory loss. He also suffers from terrifying flashbacks.
Yet another, played by Scott Haze, is living with a broken body that has been shredded by enemy fire.
Sgt. Adam Schumann, played by Miles Teller, is the movie’s protagonist, the strongest survivor of the five modern warriors portrayed here. He has a loving wife and two children awaiting him when he comes back home to Kansas City, Kansas. But his wounds, less visible, are emotional and psychological.
He has survivor’s guilt for coming home in one piece physically, when some of his brothers have not. But he also suffers from guilt of another kind, which is revealed later in the movie.
“Thank You for Your Service” details the veterans’ challenges upon returning home with raw insight and sensitivity. Marital relationships are stalled and frayed. The former soldiers have numerous psychological problems.
The Department of Veterans Affairs takes a big hit for its cruel and callous treatment of the returning warriors due to bureaucratic red tape and government indifference.
The movie illustrates poignantly and powerfully that we are great at sending young people to ill-considered war zones for dubious purposes around the globe, but shamefully incompetent at the task of looking after them when they return.
Director Jason Hall wrote the script for the highly popular “American Sniper.” He adapted this script, too, and this is his directorial debut. It’s a winner in both categories.
Unfortunately, it’s a winner about men and women who lose so much, especially the 22 veterans who lose their lives every day to suicide.
“Thank You for Your Service” is an important call to arms on behalf of our men and women in military service. They deserve better. Much better.
Thank You for Your Service
Who: With Miles Teller, Amy Schumer, Haley Bennett, Scott Haze, Erin Darke, Brad Beyer and Beulah Koale. Directed by Jason Hall.
Running time: 108 minutes.
Where: Area theaters.
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