Why Everyone Needs To See "Thank You For Your Service"

Why Everyone Needs To See "Thank You For Your Service"

A humbling experience for American civilians.
173
views

"Thank You For Your Service" may be considered a biographical drama, but it is nothing short of a true story.

Disclaimer: this article contains spoilers.

Miles Teller plays the role of Army Staff Sgt. Adam Schumann who is finally reunited with his family in Kansas after three tours in Iraq. The film opens up with the homecoming of Schuman and two other soldiers, Tausolo Aieti (played by Beulah Koale) and Will Waller (played by Joe Cole).

Each one of these stories brings so much to light for civilians. There are plenty of long-term effects that come with military duty, one of which Americans associate the most with military veterans: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

What does having PTSD really mean? How do civilians recognize the symptoms? How do we respond to them?

The sound of a pen clicking, the knock on a door, or in this movie's case, the hushed whir of voices and echos in a mall food court-- all possible triggers to a physical tantrum. However, what we may not consider are the other consequences veterans face, many of which are personified by Tausolo Aieti and Will Waller.

After spending the plane ride bragging about his excitement for his future wedding, Waller arrives home from his tour to find his house, bank accounts, and life completely drained. His significant other left with no explanation, took everything and refused a number of his calls.

Schumann tried his best to keep Waller going by providing him with not only a house, but a home, yet Waller still shot himself in the head at the front desk of the bank where his ex-girlfriend worked after being refused an explanation. His suicide leaves everyone wondering if there was more that could have been done to prevent it.

Is fighting a war to protect your home worth it if you have no home to return to? Was there a way out for Waller? Is there a way out for other veterans in the same situation?

Tausolo Aieti was convinced from the very beginning that the military saved his life. From a civilian standpoint, this leads many to believe Aieti was mixed up with the wrong crowd and headed down a very dark path in life. Joining the service gives people like him a purpose. It provides discipline and financial security.

It could also mean getting blown up seven times and losing your memory, unable to remember your son's name or even what day of the week it is. It could mean losing a limb or two or three or four on duty, and waiting in line for hours – just to hope a doctor can see you within the next six to eight weeks.

When the military has become your crutch, what happens when you can't re-enlist? Where do you go? What do you do?

Upon his arrival home, Schumann comes face to face with the wife of one of his deceased comrades who begs him to tell her what happened to her husband, James Doester. Following some eye-opening experiences at home – including visiting the veteran who was sniped under Schumann's watch, who Schumann then carried and accidentally dropped while exiting the ambush – it isn't until the end of the movie when he had been home for several months that he's finally able to face her.

Aside from living with the guilt of someone else's life being ended and their family completely altered forever because of a personal decision, Schumann also faces the difficulty of living with the fact that Doester died because he told Schumann to stay back and recover while he took his place in a mission.

"I should have been there," he tells himself and others repeatedly. How do you move past something like that? How do you forgive yourself? Is there a way to find peace?

As a civilian, there's no way for me to know the answers to the questions this story poses, but as a civilian who has personal ties to a soldier, I can only hope that the passion and determination these servicemen have to make it home safe is even half as much as they have for their job.

At times, military personnel are faced with making unfathomable decisions that they and those their decisions have affected have to live with for years to come. They lie awake at night questioning their identity, their purpose in life, and whether or not anything in life is really worth it when they're constantly fighting death.

The sad reality is that there's nothing one can say or do to make these crisis thoughts leave a soldier's mind. Families wonder day in and day out what they can do to make the situation easier, and it's so hard to accept the fact that the only people who can ultimately change the situation are the soldiers themselves.

The only thing we can do is provide a sense of much needed stability, through unconditional love and support.

Something extremely humbling (aside from the film) is Adam Schumann's outlook on civilians saying, "Thank you for your service" to soldiers they see in public.

To him, and many other soldiers alike, the phrase has lost all meaning. However, there is an alternative way to show appreciation – a phrase he didn't realize held so much power until it brought him to tears:

"This man grabs my hand really hard, looks me right in the eyes, and he says, 'Welcome home, son,' and turns around and walks away. I sat down in my truck, and just started to cry.

Outside of family, no one said that to me, and it hit me hard. If you're going to say anything to soldiers, say, 'Welcome home.' That's all you have to say."
– Army Staff Sgt. Adam Schumann


To all active and retired veterans, Sgt. Schumann included, welcome home.


If you haven't had the chance to see Thank You For Your Service, book your tickets soon.

If you're a veteran seeking help or a civilian looking for more information on how you can help veterans and families of veterans, please visit the link above.

Cover Image Credit: People//Wordpress

Popular Right Now

I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
359546
views

Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Seize The Opportunity For A First Step Towards Criminal Justice Reform

The FIRST STEP Act, while limited in scope, has the potential to set a precedent for criminal justice reform across the United States.

554
views

It's no secret that the United States' criminal justice system is a mess. Mass incarceration continues to fester throughout the system as a result of harsh sentencing laws that in many cases are especially punitive towards minorities, high rates of recidivism due to a lack of resources to help former inmates transition back into society, and a lack of legislation fix the flaws in the system to name just a few reasons.

But now, as the current 115th Congress enters its final few days of legislative work in Washington, there is an opportunity to make meaningful reforms to the American criminal justice system: the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person (or FIRST STEP) Act. In its current form, the bill would allocate funding to increase the number of vocational training and rehabilitation programs in federal prisons as well as make it easier for inmates in federal prisons to earn more "good time" credits that would qualify them for early release. If passed, it would have immediate effects on the status of thousands of inmates' prison sentences.

The bill is also remarkable because it has a great deal of bipartisan support; numerous Democrats and Republicans are listed as sponsors, and the House of Representatives passed their form of the bill last May by a 360-59 margin. In an even more surprising turn of events, President Donald Trump announced earlier in the fall that he would approve the bill - an unusual move for somebody who ran on a tough-on-crime platform in the 2016 election - if it made it to his desk (a result that would require the bill's Senate form to pass in the chamber and be reconciled with the House's version). Trump's stance on the bill puts him on the same side as a number of organizations favoring criminal justice reform such as the American Civil Liberties Union.

Evidently, the bill has a wide appeal, but there are forces that could still stop this much-needed criminal justice legislation in the Senate. One powerful threat to the bill's passage is the possibility that it will not even reach the Senate floor for a vote as the chamber scrambles to address other legislation before Congress adjourns for the year. The FIRST STEP Act simply does not hold a high priority for some Senators.

Additionally, some Senate Republicans such as Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas have voiced heated opposition to the bill on the grounds that it treated some inmates too leniently by allowing them to be released early (a claim Senate Republicans who sponsored the bill reject, citing restrictions that allow only those who committed lower-level offenses to partake in sentence-reducing programs). On the other hand, some progressives have been hesitant to support the bill because they argue that it does not go far enough in addressing sentencing reform and that the sentence-reducing programs outlined in the bill would not accessible to enough inmates.

It is true that the bill will directly affect only a small portion of the federal prison population (which in itself makes up only a fraction of the number of incarcerated people in the United States, the rest imprisoned mostly in state or county facilities). It is also true that the bill mainly targets the symptoms of mass incarceration (such as inmate recidivism and overcrowding in prisons) and not the root causes (excessively harsh sentencing laws for low-level offenders); in fact, only the Senate version of the bill mentions anything about loosening of minimum sentencing laws, as the House version does not. Yet, despite these shortcomings, advocates for criminal justice reform should still support the FIRST STEP Act because it still has the potential to help thousands of inmates currently in federal prisons.

If passed, the bill would help inmates convicted of minor offenses achieve early release from prison by increasing the number of credits counting towards prison sentence reduction they could earn while in prison; it would also assist them with the transition back into society through job-training programs, which the bill incentivizes inmates to use since the programs count towards early-release credits and are shown to decrease recidivism rates by enabling former inmates to gain at least some stability once they are released. Admittedly, these reforms are fairly mild when compared to the enormity of flaws within America's justice system, but it is better to seize the opportunity to help at least a small fraction of America's incarcerated population re-achieve independence than to help none at all. Great reforms do not take place overnight; most have to start small.

It should also be noted that FIRST STEP does not preclude the possibility of more expansive criminal justice reform, but rather (as its name implies) lays the groundwork for Congress to pursue more solutions in the future. A bipartisan legislative victory in criminal justice reform could incentivize both Congress and the President focus more attention on the issue in a time when partisan gridlock is dominant in Washington.

Given both the immediate opportunity to improve the lives of many current inmates and the chance to start a long-term legislative push for criminal justice reform, the FIRST STEP act needs to be prioritized as it makes its journey through the Senate. The bill is small but could have lasting consequences if those who wish to change the United States' criminal justice system for the better push to make it a national priority.

Related Content

Facebook Comments