THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE
documentary, 88 minutes, not rated, 4 chiles
In 2003, Kenny Toone participated in the invasion of Iraq as a U.S. Marine. While there, he and his platoon took the lives of three civilians: a father and his sons.
Toone never got over what he did to this family and was unable to adjust to life after wartime. His own marriage failed in the face of his psychological turmoil, a form of combat stress called “moral injury.” He cannot forgive himself, even though at the time he truly believed his life and the lives of his fellow Marines were in danger. His mental state leaves him at risk for suicide — a lastditch solution for pain taken by thousands of desperate men and women in similar situations.
According to Dr. Mark Russell, a recently retired U.S. Navy commander and clinical psychologist, the United States military has catastrophically failed veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by knowingly refusing to put in place early-intervention mental-health recovery programs for soldiers who have seen battle. Russell says the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) does not cover the roster of mental and physical illnesses that besiege these veterans, who are prepared extensively for war but never trained to re-enter civilian life or deal with the severe brutalities they have witnessed and committed. In Thank You for Your Service ,he advocates for the creation of a Mental Health Corps in the U.S. military, where services can be centralized and professionalized. Numerous doctors, retired military officers, and government personnel are interviewed in the documentary, including Robert Gates, former U.S. Secretary of Defense. They discuss what should be done about the massive problem of suicide and PTSD in the armed forces while also maintaining that they were prevented from implementing any programs on the inside. In the meantime, some non-governmental organizations and other groups have developed programs to begin to address this gap in care. Toone takes part in such a program, as do others profiled in this documentary, and he achieves a deeply moving measure of triumph over his demons. — J.L. Violet Crown 1:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21; 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22; 1:10 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23