Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, many outstanding documentaries have been created. One such documentary takes an intense look into the lives of a group of young men as they make the choice to join their local National Guard. Director Heather Courtney follows a group friends and how their lives and the lives of their families change because of war. The 2011 movie is called "Where Soldiers Come From" (wheresoldierscomefrom.com) and I recommend it. You will walk away with a deeper appreciation and respect for the men and women who serve in our nation's National Guard. The movie has earned several film awards.

The director had the desire to make a film about her hometown. Unhappy about how small-town America was stereotyped, Courtney wanted the chance to share with everyone what life was like in her rural hometown in Michigan. Getting the idea from a local newspaper, she pursued getting more information about a National Guard unit that was based there. It is there she met a young group of friends who had decided to join after graduating from high school. She then spent almost two years following this group before they went to war and as active duty soldiers serving in Afghanistan. Her goal, to research and get to know them and their families before deployment and witness the change in their lives over four years.

Courtney accompanied these soldiers to Afghanistan to document their story as well as make trips back to the U.


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S. to film their families that were left behind and observe the struggles and changes military families face. She is there when the soldiers come home from war and documents the affects of adjustment back to civilian life, family and personal relationships and trying to belong to a community once more. While at home these soldiers carry the burden of Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, symptoms that were result of sweeping for improvised explosive devices, repeated bomb blasts and struggling with the reasons for this continued war.

For many young men and women in the United States, joining the military is an option to earn college tuition money which would otherwise not be available to them. Attractive signing bonuses have also made joining the military more enticing. With today's economy, rising college tuition costs, families struggling to survive financially, often there is no choice. This is not a comfortable "feel good" movie. War is not comfortable, there is a cruel truth to it that many of us in our country are not aware of or choose not to know about. But the truth is there are men and women every day from every war who know this truth and no film can truly capture it unless you have really been in war to know it.

I dedicate this to the men and women past and present who have tirelessly and unselfishly sacrificed and served in our National Guard. Especially to veterans, Dominic Fredianelli, Cole Smith, Matt Beaudoin who shared their extraordinary stories in the movie. To Heather Courtney who gave us a film that reminds us of that small percentage of Americans and their families who sacrifice themselves in every sense of the word no matter the cost.

Donna Teresa can be reached at dteres747@gmail.com


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Donna Teresa writes about the documentary "Where Soldiers Come From" , only at montereyherald.com