“Thank You For Your Service”, which opens Friday and stars Miles Teller, is the true story of a group of soldiers coming home from a tour of duty in Iraq. This is not your average war movie and very little time is spent following the soldiers on the battlefield. Instead, it’s a gripping film about the realities our veterans face when they return home from war.

Most of the servicemen are dealing with post traumatic stress disorder. Others are trying to cope with battle scars, depression, and the loss of friends during combat. Some simply can’t seem to pick up where they left off with their life before Iraq, straining relationships and even driving one veteran to commit suicide.

When trying to seek help, two of the characters face long lines at the VA Hospital and are told it could be nearly a year before a doctor can see them. The same goes for their VA benefits – the system is backlogged and it could take almost the same amount of time to process the paperwork so their benefits can kick in.

Yes, this is a Hollywood adaptation but sadly, these are all very real problems our military men and women face when they return home.

In 2016, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald compared the wait times to lines at Disneyland, stating “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?” he asked. “What’s important is what’s your satisfaction with the experience.”

About 20 veterans per day commit suicide and in 2014, it was reported that more than 7,400 veterans took their own lives, accounting for 18 percent of all suicides in America.

According to Wounded Warriors, 1 in 5 veterans of the Iraq or Iraqi War came home with post traumatic stress disorder and over 540,000 veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD.

Not to mention that there are roughly 39,471 veterans that are homeless and 1.4 million are at risk for homelessness due to ” poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.” (National Coalition for Homeless Veterans)

This is a very sad reality that many Americans aren’t aware of . Often times our veterans are used as campaign props and lots of promises are made but once the election is over, service men and women are all but forgotten and our elected officials don’t seem to be doing anything about the real problems they face when returning home.

To help our vets, we need to do better than simply thanking them for their service – we need to be out there actively and loudly calling for our elected officials to start fixing some of the internal problems at the VA to get the bravest and most selfless among us the benefits and help they deserve.

“Thank You For Your Service” opens Friday, Oct. 27th nationwide. If you’re a veteran or active duty military, AMC Theaters will be offering 10,000 free tickets to servicemembers this week. A free ticket will be given to the first 25 servicemembers who show a valid military ID at each AMC theater on Thursday Oct. 26. The tickets will be valid for preview screenings of the film scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 26. For more information and to see if your theater is participating, follow this link.

-K

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