During a weekend of media tributes to US military men and women, dead and still serving, I tried to inject the reality of the still-shocking rate of suicides among our troops on active duty and after they return home, despite fewer of them facing combat in recent months. I’ve covered this issue for more than ten years now in dozens of articles (just one example) and a book, going back to when hardly anyone wanted to hear it.
Now a new documentary aims to attract and keep a steady focus.
One of its producers, Claire Ratinon, tells me in an e-mail that Almost Sunrise, directed by Michael Collins (Give Up Tomorrow), “tells the story of two ex-soldiers, Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson, who walk across the country in a bid to heal from their time on the battlefield. The film deals with the challenges that face returning military and their families explored through their experiences and the people they meet on their 2700 mile journey, walking from Milwaukee to LA.”
The filmmakers have forged a new partnership with Stop Soldier Suicide, and Claire explains, “This film is being made to call attention to the suicide crisis and ignite the much-needed dialogue around this difficult subject—and partnering with Stop Soldier Suicide will allow us to develop a powerful outreach campaign with the film as a central tool—that will bring real, meaningful change to the lives of active military, veterans and their families.”
Here’s a link to their Kickstarter campaign which includes extensive details and a message from the director and a video, and more. On the film:
Homelessness, unemployment, PTSD, traumatic brain injury and the suicide epidemic that sees 22 veterans a day take their own life, are some of the many issues that ravage the veterans community. In fact, more soldiers have died from suicide since the war in Afghanistan began than have died in combat there.
Through Tom and Anthony’s cross-country journey, ALMOST SUNRISE meets veterans who battle these issues every day, issues that experts say will continue to grow as vets of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq come home and grapple with a return to daily life.
ALMOST SUNRISE also frames the compelling issue of moral injury, an emerging term in the mental health field identified by professionals frustrated with the failure of traditional institutional efforts to make a dent in the suicide rate. Moral injury is used to describe the psychological damage service members face when their experiences on the battlefield challenge their moral beliefs.