FRONTLINE: The Wounded Platoon (PBS)
2010 | FRONTLINE, Mongoose Pictures
Rampant post-traumatic stress among members of a single platoon out of Fort Carson, Colorado, is the focus of this deeply troubling documentary. It calls into question not only the adequacy of the U.S. military’s mental-health services but also the wisdom of extended deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan to offset the shortfalls of a volunteer fighting force. Decorated veterans serving prison sentences for serious home-front crimes — drug dealing, spouse abuse, robbery, murder — talk candidly about the moral numbness required to survive amid IEDs ubiquitous as litter and foes indistinguishable from non-combatants. They talk of the difficulty of adjusting to stateside life and about psychiatric help they asked for but seldom got. FRONTLINE reports that 36 Fort Carson soldiers have committed suicide since the Iraq War began, but an even more stunning statistic is that by the time of the much-heralded “surge” in Iraq, more than 20,000 U.S. soldiers were taking anti-depressants or sleeping pills prescribed by military doctors to keep them in the field. Spokesmen for the military, meanwhile, can’t seem to agree as to whether PTSD is a combat-related epidemic or just evidence of weakness. For illuminating and documenting the hidden costs of our ongoing wars abroad, FRONTLINE: The Wounded Platoon receives a Peabody Award.
Executive producer: David Fanning. Senior producer: Raney Aronson-Rath. Producers: Dan Edge, Christopher Buchanan. Writer and director: Dan Edge. Reporters: Christopher Buchanan, Dan Edge, L. Christopher Smith. Narrator: Will Lyman. Editor: Alex Archer.
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