From War to Wisdom
The most decorated Battalion in Marine Corps history, Veterans of Fox 2/5, discuss the psychological injuries of war—and the unexpected trauma of returning to civilian life after the accolades of their successful battles have ended.
A banjo plays while troops walk slowly in front of the flame of an explosion.
Footage honors the veterans of the pre-9-11 wars as the veterans of FOX speak of their high regard for them.
And then things changed. Film from Marines waiting on the boarder of Iraq, playing cards, reading and chilling out with gas masks on until they heard "all clear" and could take them off.
Formation in the sand. Training in the heat. And then joining together for a talent show. They waited until the orders came to go and create destruction of enemy forces knowing they may never return home again.
From facing the unknown of war to wisdom living with what it produced within them, From War to Wisdom film will resonate with all generations of combat veterans.
"The last time I ever got to see him..."
"The war became real."
"Marines don't fight for an administration or country or flag. Marines fight for Marines."
"Mission accomplished" was declared in 2003. And then they went back home without warning of what it all cost them.
"We had this identity of Black Hearts and that's who we had to live up to."
Then they went back to Iraq. Everything had changed from the time they liberated Kuwait and were thanked for freeing the Iraqi people from the brutality of a dictator. They were targets.
According to ICasualties.org in 2003 the US lost 486 service members. In 2004, it was 849, then 846, 832, 904 and 314 in 2008.
"But after a couple of days of being home it was... like fucking now what?"
The only part of this film I had a problem with is this.
This is the latest number released by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It follows how many OEF and OIF veterans came home. The previous study of 2012 with the number of "22 a day" had the chart.
The problem is, the number of 20 is the exact number the same report had for 1999. In other words, the majority of the veterans committing suicide are not OEF and OIF, but as the report states, 65% of the veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50. The other problem is, there were over 5 million more veterans living in this country in 1999.
"65% of all Veterans who died from suicide in 2014 were 50 years of age or older. Veterans accounted for 18% of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults. This is a decrease from 22% in 2010. Since 2001, U.S. adult civilian suicides increased 23%, while Veteran suicides increased 32% in the same time period. After controlling for age and gender, this makes the risk of suicide 21% greater for Veterans. Since 2001, the rate of suicide among US Veterans who use VA services increased by 8.8%, while the rate of suicide among Veterans who do not use VA services increased by 38.6%. In the same time period, the rate of suicide among male Veterans who use VA services increased 11%, while the rate of suicide increased 35% among male Veterans who do not use VA services. In the same time period, the rate of suicide among female Veterans who use VA services increased 4.6%, while the rate of suicide increased 98% among female Veterans who do not use VA services."
After 35 years of watching them suffer in silence, families like mine trying to make sense of a war that became our battle to fight, this film is a powerful weapon to help us help them live after war.
Maybe that is the most important part of the wisdom we can gain from all of this. It is a war for us to fight for them. We cannot win it without understanding what this enemy does. We cannot defeat it with bumper sticker slogans or fictions of numbers instead of remembering each one had a family, friends and another military family they served with.
Knowing that these men and women had survived combat, returned to us, but then battled to stay with us in what was supposed to be the peace at home. Talking about the saddest casualty of all, is not changing the outcome. They need to know they do have the power to heal. We just have to give them the training to do it.