This film is unique because it was written from the perspectives of two men from different families who each wanted to understand their loved one who served during World War II.
Richard Bausch wrote a powerful novel Peace in which he tells the story of events his father experienced during the war. Robert Port saw the same opportunity for this film and worked with Bausch to create this powerful movie called RECON weaving his own grandfather’s story of WWII into it’s script.
As I watched these soldiers hike up the mountains of Italy guided by a man who they were not certain they could trust, finding their brothers in arms dead along the way, seeing their friends dismembered from stepping on land mines, dodging bullets from a sniper attack and trying to gather themselves in the midst of literal hell and terror. I felt overwhelmed by the impossible situations I saw unfolding. I could feel the fear and internal struggle of these soldiers as they tried to survive and carry one another through the mission.
One thing that was obvious was the struggle the main character had with seeing flashbacks of the murder of an unarmed woman at the start of the film. Her face and the faces of the others who were killed on this mission haunted him. This is something I have seen in many combat veterans I have had the privilege to work alongside. This inner conflict is what counselors and many military chaplains refer to as moral injury. It’s the internal struggle of an individual who is required to do something in the line of duty that conflicts with their own moral compass. This film was a real portrayal of moral injury and of emotional and psychological traumas our men and women who have served in combat have faced. It’s something many of our first responders experience on a daily basis with each crisis and critical incident in our communities.
As a clinician and a military spouse I have seen the impact of trauma and war on marriages, families and in the lives of military and first responder family members. This film is important because it brings the emotional and psychological pain to light of the war veteran/first responder but it is also allows for an eye-opening opportunity for veteran/first responder family members to think about how they are impacted by the trauma their veteran has experienced.
During my interview with Mr. Port he mentions how his grandfather did not want to talk about what happened in the war in the same way I have heard from many family members just like him who struggled to connect with their combat veteran. I believe this film can cultivate an opportunity for connection. I hope in some way this film helps families who serve find opportunities to talk about how they can heal their relationships with one another and find ways to enjoy life again. It is possible this film will help civilian mental health professionals and health care providers better understand our service families and see the impact of war for the veteran and their family.
As a military spouse clinician I have been privileged to witness the healing of many military marriages and families in therapy. It’s a passion that burns in my heart and is my life’s work. I hope you will watch this film with an open heart with your veteran this Veteran’s Day and may you find healing and true connection today.