Directed by: Stacey Stone
Written by: Stacey Stone, Diane Mellen
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MY OWN WAR (2017)
It's everywhere in the media now days. In your daily newspaper, lining the shelves of your favorite bookstore and yes, even on your screen. Post Traumatic Stress disorder has been latched onto by main stream media, and paraded before the public with waves upon waves of exposure. Why shouldn't it be? Is it really any wonder that under the right circumstances a persons mind can be injured just as easily as their body? Amid the continuing onslaught of documentaries relating to war and PTSD, Stacey Stone's film "My Own War" stands out as an especially powerful indie flick, concentrating on the mental state of the countries soldiers in the aftermath. I found myself asking: how could you train a man to kill, send them into a dreadfully traumatic life or death situation, and think there would be no mental price to pay? The fact this disorder is a relatively new one, using the timeline of medicine, is mind boggling to say the least. What's worse is the length of time it took to be even acknowledged as a real illness. "My Own War" focuses more on the present day acceptance of PTSD, and how it affects the lives of the people who suffer with it. This may not be a brand new subject by any stretch, never the less, it's a well put together film that does the job by digging up some true feelings for these veterans, from viewers like yourself.
The great divide between "My Own War" and other, similar movies is the less clinical, more human take on the subject matter. For the few that are still ignorant, we do get the required introduction to PTSD from a medical doctor, but this is just the start and has all the impact of something you've seen a hundred times already. It's when the film proceeds swiftly from the illness itself to the personal life of it's victims, where you really start paying attention. One after another these soldiers recount situations that many of us will never fully understand, brought on by PTSD, as these people attempt to live with the mental pain it presents. "We carry suicide in our pockets." was a line that is still stuck in my head, a full day after watching the film. Hearing the triggers, the stories and yes, seeing the tears have helped pull this film out of the hum-drum of your every day documentary, into a film you'll really pay attention to.
Another interesting thing about "My Own War" is that it's not "war" specific when dishing out the information on PTSD. Yes, this film is veteran driven but doesn't shy away from the fact you don't need to have served to get sick. Anyone who suffers a traumatic event could eventually suffer from PTSD in one form or another. "My Own War" touches on this seamlessly, before switching back to being veteran focused. We also get glances of the contradictions that probably help fuel the mental aspects. Being taught from childhood never to harm or kill, and then being trained and ordered to do just that in itself, is probably mentally damaging. Never mind when you add in the act of war itself. The real question I found myself asking is in today's world, right now, how many soldiers really need to be put in this situation? Do not enough issues exist on the home front already? My sentiment is mirrored at the end of the film, by a retired soldier no less. It really is a good point and something to think about.
"My Own War" never tries to do too much in too little time. It would be a weaker film if it attempted a more doctored approach, and left the human element unattended. There's nothing more heart wrenching than to hear a retired soldier, break down while giving his own life, his younger life, as an example of why people should never forget what was done for them. He is right. Physical injuries aside, soldiers put their mental state at risk every time and it seems a vast divide exists on the value of the mind and the body. Although recently, a push has been made to get these heroes the help they need, why has it taken so long? These collected stories of people, their situations and troubles all come together to form this well done documentary. One to watch, one to appreciate and maybe, just maybe, one to learn a little from. You may just find yourself realizing that sometimes, a simple thank you isn't always enough.