Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day in America on average. Most vets have to find their own way to deal with wartime experiences. Almost Sunrise, a POV documentary airing on PBS tonight, follows two Iraqi veterans, haunted by their wartime experiences, who look to excise their combat demons by walking 2,700 miles across the country, […]
Almost Sunrise, a POV documentary airing on PBS tonight, follows two Iraqi veterans, haunted by their wartime experiences, who look to excise their combat demons by walking 2,700 miles across the country, from Milwaukee to Santa Barbara.
“You really don’t know anything about war,” says Tom Voss, who served in Iraq from 2004-2005 at age 19.
“I had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning,” says Anthony Anderson, who like Voss, did two tours in Iraq.
“I was breaking down.”
Both men experienced sleep disorders, chronic anger, and suicidal thoughts. Alcohol and prescription drug abuse added to their problems.
“I needed to do something to help myself,” said Voss. “I needed to take a stand.”
He decided the walk, which would help raise funds for a Milwaukee veteran gathering place, would help him come to grips with his wartime experiences.
Anderson, who also concluded that his survival required drastic action, agreed to join him.
Massive blisters, snow and a blazing sun were accompanied by constant mental replays of what Voss and Anderson call their “deployment reel”, memories of combat experiences brought vividly to life in graphic detail.
As they walked, they kept a blog, maintained a social media presence and read emails from supporters and veterans encouraged by their example.
Along the way, people stood at attention, saluted and thanked the walkers for their service.
The filmmakers hope the film will raise awareness of moral injury, and contribute to the reduction of veteran suicides.
“After grueling tours in conflict zones, it can be difficult to return home whole,” says Justine Nagan, POV/American Documentary executive producer.
“With great humanity, Almost Sunrise raises the important issue of our veterans’ mental health after returning home and offers hope and suggestions for healing.”
To see what time Almost Sunrise airs in your market, check your PBS station’s local listing.