PTSD: The Walking Wounded is an emotionally charged documentary about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder in U.S. veterans. PTSD amongst veterans is woefully common. Some symptoms include self-isolation, negative thoughts, irritability, and nightmares. As pointed out in the film, 20% of returning veterans experience PTSD, and 22 U.S. veterans die of suicide every day.
The raw and heartbreaking subject matter is handled quite effectively by director Ash Patino, who gives every interviewee the time and space to say what they want or need to. But that has more to do with the documentary being relatively small and intimate, focusing on just five subjects. They are U.S. veterans Sergio Agudelo and Matthew Gadomski, David Lionheart, the director of Play For Your Freedom (a non-profit organization dedicated to helping veterans through fitness and wellness workshops), the sister of a veteran who died by suicide, Jillian Nadiak, and Allen Hershman, a clinical psychologist who also spent time in the military. These five converse about their past experiences and the strategies they use to deal with their trauma.
“…20% of returning veterans experience PTSD and 22 U.S. veterans die of suicide every day.”
The interview subjects talk about their time in the military and what it was like to return to the civilian population. At one point in PTSD: The Walking Wounded, Lionheart discusses how some veterans feel like the civilian population is afraid of them, which is why they don’t get many visitors. Agudelo talks about how difficult it was to keep a job in civilian life. Hershman mentions the divorce rate of veterans and the support system that is then debilitated by their spouse’s departure. The veterans are brutally honest about their hardships. There are candid discussions about suicide and drug addiction, thus exposing the devastating impact of PTSD. These conversations deeply moved me, and I am thankful they were brave enough to talk about their hardships openly.
With her documentary, Patino spreads more awareness about PTSD, opioid addiction, and the mission of Play For Your Freedom. With his successful organization, Lionheart advocates for unity and open discussion about the struggles that veterans confront on a mental, emotional, and physical level. No one should face these struggles alone. And yet, too many veterans are facing them alone.
PTSD: The Walking Wounded is a truthful, soul-stirring, and powerful documentary that has real, unfiltered conversations with a sister of a veteran who died by overdose and with veterans who overcame addiction, anger, and suicide ideation. There is heartbreak and tragedy associated with PTSD. Still, there are people and programs (such as the one outlined here) available for those who are silently suffering alone with invisible scars.
"…truthful, soul-stirring, and powerful..."