Douglas Taurel’s seven-part series, Landing Home, is the all too familiar story of the career veteran returning to a place that no longer feels like home. The difference is Taurel gets us right to the heart of the matter in a clear and concise way.
Luke (Douglas Taurel) is an Army veteran of the Afghanistan war. It’s his daughter Stella’s (Stella Taurel) birthday, and his wife, Carolyn (Ylfa Edelstein), needs his help setting up before guests arrive. What should be a simple, joyous task turns into a day of intense stress and anxiety.
Luke has problems focusing while his mind flashes between the party (here and now) and his combat trauma (then). The guests are eager to thank Luke for his service and express gratitude that he’s home, but when the stress hits the breaking point, he “goes for a walk” and returns long after the party ends.
Throughout Landing Home, Taurel describes the difficulties veterans have readjusting to “normal” life. After active duty, his job skills are not so marketable. Carolyn encourages him to take college courses off the G.I. Bill, but, you know… old dogs and new tricks. He attempts to apply for a job, but that requires a urine test, and he’s not exactly clean.
“What should be a simple, joyous task turns into a day of intense stress and anxiety.”
Carolyn, his father, and even his daughter know something is wrong, but Luke is unwilling to talk about it or ask for help. Luke complains that the family would have been better off if he never returned and contemplates re-enlisting again with the Army. As you can imagine, it only gets worse from here.
I know very little about Douglas Taurel, but based on the insight and specificity of Landing Home, I’m assuming this is a very personal story. The series comprehensively presents the issues veterans face coming home, which is impressive considering the series runs only 75 minutes total. Taurel explores the feeling of helplessness and shame that stems from not being able to provide for his family. He explores the secret “alternatives” veterans turn to and then shows the path to personal freedom.
What’s particularly remarkable about Landing Home is that it doesn’t go down the extreme, dramatic path of PTSD like The Deer Hunter, First Blood, or The Hurt Locker. It instead goes for the averages and speaks to the majority of returning military and their families. He gives them respect and honor. This is a series for everyone and offers a realistic and accomplishable path to finding life after service. If anything, it can serve as a resource for help and worth watching for anyone and everyone.
"…comprehensively presents the issues veterans face coming home..."