Thank You For Your Service
Film raises important questions about the struggles of veterans’ return from war
Anderson Haigler | A&C Editor | The USD Vista
“Thank You For Your Service” tells a story that has become all too familiar in today’s world: a decorated soldier returns from combat and struggles with the transition back to civilian life. The movie, which is based on a true story, details U.S. Army Sergeant Adam Schumann’s search for normalcy following his deployment. The movie is dark, and at times depressing, but it depicts a harsh reality that many Americans go through when they return from combat.
While “Thank You For Your Service” is a well-produced film, the value of the movie lies less in the filmmaking, and more in the message the movie gets across. The camera work and visual presentation are polished, but for the most part unremarkable. The timely and compelling nature of the story is what maintains interest throughout the film. Miles Teller plays the role of Schumman well as a young but embattled veteran, and Beulah Koale provides a convincing portrait of a man who has been deeply scarred by war in his portrayal of Schumann’s collegue, Tausolo Aeiti. However, Schumann and Aeiti’s story is one of countless stories of veterans struggling to adjust to civilian life, and many do not have the same happy ending that their’s ended up having.
When Schumann returns from Iraq, he and his platoon mates find themselves dealing with the effects of combat, both seen and unseen, as the suicide of a fellow soldier leads them to question their own mental health. Schumann slowly realizes that his deployment has left him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, while Aeiti comes to terms with a traumatic brain injury suffered after surviving an explosion. Both men try to get help, but struggle with long wait times and limited resources at the Department of Veteran Affairs — an issue that is as timely now as it was in Iraq. During this search for help, the former soldiers spiral into a destructive pattern that threatens to destroy the lives they’ve built for themselves and their families beyond the battlefield.
The movie’s portrayal of an overtaxed and inefficient Department of Veteran Affairs is an issue that is all too real. In the film, the men seek treatment for their issues, but are told that they may have to wait six to nine months for treatment, to which Teller’s character poignantly points is too long of a wait for veterans dealing with serious mental health problems suffered during the war. The film also touches heavily on the subject of veterans committing suicide, with Schumann attempting suicide in the film, even referencing statistics on suicide at one point. Both of these issues remain as pressing as ever, even more than six years after the end of U.S. military presence in Iraq.
The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 20 veterans commit suicide each day, despite new efforts to prevent it. In addition, USA Today recently reported findings of 126 incidences at VA hospitals that warrant the firing of employees, ranging from critical medical mistakes to sexual harassment.
The strength of “Thank You For Your Service” comes from the powerful nature of the film’s subject. The assistance of veterans in their transition from the battlefield to civilian life is something that is as important now as it has ever been. The film does a good job of shining light on that issue. With Veteran’s Day approaching, “Thank You For Your Service”offers a brutal but meaningful look at the struggles veterans go through following their service to the country of the United States.