My grandfather served in World War I in the Italian Army when he was eighteen years old. He later emigrated from Italy to America in 1921. His wife and young son followed his journey to this land of opportunity a few years later. They had five children and all three of their sons volunteered to serve in the United States Military- one, made a life-long career in the U.S. Army. Growing up, my mother, sister and I lived with my grandparents, and I remember my uncle coming home from leave always sharply dressed in his uniform. Military service was a natural part of our lives and deeply respected.
I grew up watching the Vietnam War escalate on television as the entire country revolted and evolved. It was an incredible time of drastic changes, protests, uprisings and tragedies. I remember watching the nightly news- the countless, flag-draped coffins carried off planes every night as cities across the nation erupted into violence. It was a time of great discontent- it was visceral- and it seemed to affect everyone on some level, including me.
The genesis of this film began in my freshman year in college when I protested the Vietnam War (the longest war in our nation’s history at that time) along side of Vietnam Veterans- “to end the war and bring them all home.” But what I could not understand was the hatred many had for those returning soldiers- spitting on them, calling them “baby killers,” etc. None of that made any sense to me.
Young men, teenagers, were drafted into that war- most of them not wanting to go. Unlike WWII, where the entire country stood behind the government and the troops taking up responsibility to support and pitch in– like women working at jobs that men left in order to go to war. This was not the case during the Vietnam War and certainly, not today with an all volunteer military where approximately one percent of the population serves. Most Americans have “no skin in the game” and apathy grows.
Personally, I am not pro-war, but if you’re going to send people off to fight a war, then you MUST take care of them when they return home. No excuses, nor expense spared. The treatment for the invisible wounds from Post Traumatic Stress and Moral Injury that many soldiers carry with them as they transition home from combat, and other related military service, should be factored into the total cost of war.
It is the HUMAN COST OF WAR that affects not only the veteran, but the entire family, including society. 20- 22 veterans per day commit suicide, according to the latest statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs. To say this is a tragedy and an epidemic is an understatement.
Nina M. Gilberti has been working in the film industry in Los Angeles as a picture editor for twenty-six years- editing feature films, documentaries, and prime time television series. She is a recipient of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Editing for an ABC documentary entitled, Positive: A Journey Into AIDS. Her television credits include: The Blacklist: Redemption, Criminal Minds, Joan of Arcadia, Judging Amy and The Lone Gunmen.