The words “Thank you for your service” have gone from a meaningful statement of gratitude to an empty platitude. As a veteran, I cringe when someone says it to me when buying groceries, at the gym, or at an event where there is a casual reference to veterans. The film Thank You For Your Service examines the lives of those affected by the war directly and indirectly. In the movie, Miles Teller (Whiplash, War Dogs, Fantastic Four) plays Staff Sergeant Schumann, an Iraq War vet who is returning to his family and hoping to return to some sense of normalcy. Unfortunately, he and his friends discover that the war and the horrors that they witnessed cannot be escaped.
Thank You For Your Service is able to address an aspect of war that many films overlook; how the men and women who are deployed changed by their experiences. Additionally, it tackles the questions of how their families cope with the changes to them, how they go about living a normal existence, and how people understand how they are harmed by war without any visible injuries?
The film is a testament to the men and women suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It doesn’t sugar-coat or trivialize their experiences. The emotions are raw. The visual representation of their daily terror is present. With depth, the film shows audiences who may be unfamiliar with veterans or those suffering from PTSD what the world really looks like to them and how they struggle with just existing.
The film takes the statement of “Thank you for your service” and gives it greater meaning in able to connect the problems inherent in the military, healthcare system, and how we as a society view mental health. The film allows for an authentic examination of what servicemembers deal with in their return home from war. It becomes apparent that they themselves may be able to leave the battle, but the battle stays with them, tormenting and haunting them as each day passes. The war they face never ceases. Thank You For Your Service will hopefully help foster substantive discussions about what many men and women deal with in their return from the horrors of war.