Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Reviewing In the Valley of Elah

My review of In the Valley of Elah is up on The American Prospect's site today:

What’s peaking though the fairly transparent plot is the costs of sending soldiers to war -- encouraging them to torture and kill terrorists (or suspected terrorists) -- and returning them home unable to continue with normal lives. A side plot of the film has a woman ahead of Deerfield at the police station there to report her husband's (another recently returned Iraq vet) violent drowning of the family's Doberman Pincher in the bathtub in front of their son. Later in the film he is arrested for drowning his wife, who Theron's character had sent home without helping.

The movie clearly depicts post traumatic stress disorder. But what makes In the Valley of Elah portrayal valuable is that it depicts the strain of PTSD on families and communities as well.

Official estimates of how many Iraq war veterans might be affected by PTSD vary, mainly because it’s something that affects patients in a matter of degrees, many of which are not necessarily violent. It’s a cost of war that’s little talked about estimated to cost billions of dollars. Many psychologists, including the American Psychological Association's Education Directorate, advocate a public education campaign that would not only teach soldiers and their families what the symptoms of PTSD are (often sleeplessness, flashbacks, problems with aggression, and relationship stress) but also instruct the public that PTSD can be a normal reaction to abnormal levels of stress or violence, especially when encountered for long periods of time. Some soldiers are serving tours as long as 15 months.

Read the whole thing.

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