By Debbie Gregory.
Disabled veterans hold a unique place in the history of the United States, and Debt of Honor is a powerful documentary by Ric Burns that tells their story.
The film relays the history of wounded veterans in all of our major wars. During the Revolutionary War era, half of those wounded died. Today, the statistics reflect that 8 out of 9 wounded will survive. Advances in field medicine have resulted in this huge increase in survival. But it also means that more service members are coming home disabled. Increased numbers of veterans are coming home with severe injuries, suffering from PTSD, TBI, burn injuries, and loss of limbs.
The documentary examines how governmental and societal attitudes towards disabled veterans have changed over time. Since we haven’t had a national draft since 1973, the armed services are made up of volunteers, the 1%, who put their lives on the line to defend the nation.
The documentary shares first-hand accounts of wounded warriors Lt. Col. Tammy Duckworth, Pvt. J.R. Martinez, Col. Gregory Gadson, to name just a few.
Those who return from war must have men and women waiting for them at home who will stand with them as they work to take back their lives. Young men and women who engaged in relentless combat in Iraq and Afghanistan were wounded by IEDs, roadside bombs, and ambushes.
Those with obvious physical wounds returned home to military hospitals and VA medical centers to begin the lifetime journey of rehabilitation. Many of those suffering from PTSD and TBI have gone undiagnosed and untreated.
Wounded World War II veterans visited wounded Korean War veterans. Wounded Korean War veterans visited wounded Vietnam veterans. As new wounded warriors arrived home from Iraq and Afghanistan, they face the same fears and concerns that veterans had returning from Europe, the Pacific, Korea, and Vietnam.
Today, with the United States fighting the longest war in its history, it has become imperative to create a bridge between civilians and soldiers, forging ties between those who serve and those they protect.