In 2007, James Gandolfini of “The Sopranos” fame produced an excellent HBO documentary entitled ALIVE DAY: HOME FROM IRAQ. The film focused on injured Iraq veterans and their devotion to America, while surveying the physical and emotional costs of war. Ten surviving soldiers were interviewed by Gandolfini, who revealed their thoughts on the challenges which they face integrating back into society and family life. They also reflected on the memories of the day when they narrowly escaped death, and what life may have been like in other circumstances.
In 2010, Gandolfini produced another documentary with HBO, entitled WARTORN 1861–2010, which analyzed the effects of POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER or PTSD throughout American history from 1861 to 2010. It featured interviews with American Military Officials on their views of PTSD and how they are trying to help soldiers affected by it. Blending archival research with first-person accounts, this sobering film traces the history of posttraumatic stress, from the first documented Civil War cases to more recent occurrences in the Middle East. Letters from soldiers of the American Civil War and World War I who were affected by PTSD are examined along with interviews with soldiers affected by PTSD and their families.PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological disorder. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one’s own or someone else’s physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual’s ability to cope.
Diagnostic symptoms for PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and increased arousal — such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger and hypervigilence. Formal diagnostic criteria require that the symptoms last more than one month and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
One of the most important ideas put forth in the film is that if you experience violence, you are more than likely to experience PTSD, and that does NOT make you weak. If you have a physical injury, you would have that mended and rehabed. It’s EXACTLY the same with any psychological trauma that you have experienced. It needs to be healed, just like a physical injury.
Secondly, your psychological fitness and preparedness is just as important as your physical fitness and preparedness. Ultimately, they are two sides of the same coin.
Please watch Wartorn 1861–2010. The press conference held at the Pentagon in the DVD extras is as good as the film itself.