Battle at Home

2013 ,    »  -   25 Comments
Ratings: 7.15/10 from 55 users.

The reputation of the American soldier is one of valor and bravery, an image that continues to be sold to young patriots in an effort to recruit them into the military. However, the reality of war and its long-term psychological consequences is a world apart from the strapping hero one may conjure in their mind's eye. Battle at Home examines trends of violence in American soldiers, and the contributing factors that may play into their acts of misconduct.

What could make someone capable of enacting egregiously violent crimes not only against foreign civilians during tours of duty, but friends and loved ones once home? Through interviews with legal experts, psychologists, and veterans, host Shawn Musgrave explores the role of pre-existing mental health afflictions, post-traumatic afflictions, and increasingly aggressive military instruction in creating desensitized soldiers. While one subject blames the violent misbehavior of veterans on existing psychological conditions, the more common belief is that the stresses of wartime combined alone are often enough to cause an otherwise good soldier to snap.

In one of the most powerful stories shared in the film, author David Philips tells of Jon Needham. A well-liked and honorable young man, Needham left his life as a professional surfer to serve his country at the peak of the Iraq war. Regarded as one of the best soldiers in his platoon, he faced backlash from his peers when he failed to support them in killing civilians, mutilating dead bodies, and covering up their transgressions. In an act of retaliation, Needham attempted to shoot a member of his platoon - an act that resulted in his being discharged and returned home. Failing to receive treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to overcrowding at the nearest VA Hospital, Needham continued to suffer flashbacks and disorientation. It was most likely during one of these episodes that he unwittingly beat his girlfriend to death.

Needham's story is just one of many addressed in this episode of Aperture. Also focusing on the fluctuation in military standards of conduct and how they've changed in the time between Vietnam and Iraq, as well as the effects of serving back-to-back deployments, Battle at Home strips away the romanticized notions of war by revealing the suffering of the warriors.

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25 Comments / User Reviews

  1. dufas_duck

    Then, many become police officers when they come home......Hmmmm

  2. Fabien L'Amour

    OK doc but the woman making comments about soldiers killing kids and women comes off as an attempt to make believe all soldiers have the potential to shoot at innocent people on a whim.

  3. deed

    If it wasn't for their countries ******* everything up we wouldn't be over there in the first place.....

  4. sharpstuff

    What an ignorant comment. It is the US and their handlers in occupied Palestine who are the perpetrators of most (if not all) the unrest in the World. The only thing Yanks are good for is shooting innocent people and blowing things up. They have never won a 'war' since they started them. The sooner the US implodes, the better for the rest of us.

  5. Hussain Fahmy

    War is so unjust and ugly that all who wage it must try to cut off the voice of conscience within themselves.

  6. Lancev32

    Are there any docs on this site that aren't left biased? Wow.... Killing civilians and mutilating bodies.... Very odd... I served 4 tours in Iraq and 2 in Afghanistan in Marine Corps Infantry/rifle companies... And not once did I kill a civilian, mutilate a body or ever hear or see of it happening.... That's 53 mins of fiction I'll never get back....

  7. Lancev32

    And you claim the comment above yours is ignorant? Think you have it beat by a long shot on the ignorant scale.

  8. Fabien L'Amour

    The nations that had most troops deployments in armed conflicts since 1900 are :

    1) China (34 deployments)
    2) United Kingdom (30 deployments)
    3) France (27 deployments)
    4) U.S.A. (24 deployments)
    5) Soviet Union (20 deployments)

    Info source is the Polynational War Memorial website

  9. awful_truth

    That is some interesting stats Fabien. I went and checked the website out myself, and I will definitely have to go back from time to time. I will say that some of the numbers they had listed for fatalities seemed a little skewed, however, by their own admission, they were actively updating their information. Out of curiosity, would you mind telling me where did you come across this site?

  10. Fabien L'Amour

    Search engine result I think or followed a link.
    I can't really retrace my path but I was looking for the wars of the 20th century. You might be right for the fatalities, I wouldn't want to be the one attesting to any number. Each side always have different numbers for a plain manifestation, I am sure the numbers are not right in wars.

  11. awful_truth

    Of that I am sure. (the numbers that is) I would be interested to see the breakdown (regarding deployments) in the last 50 years as opposed to the last 100 years do to political/economic changes in power. (Perhaps it hasn't changed at all) Either way, thanks for the heads up Fabian. I am sure everyone would appreciate the insight. (good job)

  12. Fabien L'Amour

    I had a quick look at the list and excluding Vietnam, Korea and Iran/Irak, it seems the worst wars were civil wars that lasted for many years.

  13. Keith

    Someone has to operate all that military equipment that the police departments receive.

  14. princeton

    I suppose the julian assange footage was fiction too.... lol I guess I can also suppose since I've never been shot before, this means all shootings reported are fiction. Not every soldier actually gets into combat we know this... maybe you were the guy doing dishes... but My best friend, roommates, father and I live 5 mins away from fort. hood the largest base in the US and speak to soldiers daily.. they disagree with you as its not what you say it is... most gun crime in this city is from suicide, not murder of soldiers.

  15. Lancev32

    I'm not going to debate you.. Trust me, I didn't do dishes. 24 years as an infantryman, I've seen things you can't imagine...well maybe you can by watching your Docs. But I doubt you'll ever fight for anything, except on your keyboard. I am not saying war is not hell and there are casualties, seen and unseen. I am telling you try not to believe ever thing you see or hear on the Internet. We are done here... Go have a latte.

  16. UnderSiege

    Eloquent HF! Our military aggression would make the Spartans blush with envy. We don't need to take children at eight years of age to indoctrinate them...that is now being done from birth, by television and internet propaganda.

    As always the religious shamans of all stripes give their aid to this military madness with customary silent obeisance, and hypocritical absolution to soothe the conscience of youthful, naive participants, and prepare them for slaughter.

    No thinking person should be surprised at the results.

    The noxious effects of these decades of escalating violence (wars) has now turned a trickle of isolated civilian tragedies into a daily flood of ugly crimes, which is also virulently notable in American policing.

  17. seriously

    lol.. the image of an American "soldier" is that of cowardice, evil , rape, torture, murder, execution, ignorance and evil.. where on the F***K on the planet does an American :soldier" come across as remotely brave or having valour? Seriously.. get a f**** grip and don't insult the millions of victims not to mention the planet overall!

  18. corey

    A soldiers a soldier no matter what nation they all get **** on. Don't consider yourself any better because you were raised with a different perspective of the world.

    war is stupid and a waste. Mars is a far better goal to sacrifice life for.

  19. gustave courbet

    Hi Lancev32, I would point out that your anecdotal experiences, the veracity of which I have no doubt, are not representative of all of the experiences of those involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 'Collateral Murder' video released by Wikileaks (which is taken directly from the gunsight video of an American Apache helicopter), and interviews I have seen with infantrymen like yourself tell an ugly tale about the conduct of SOME components of our armed forces. I'm glad your experiences were different, but I recommend you google the video I mentioned as a jumping off point in deepening your understanding about these complex events.

  20. Lancev32

    Gustave, I appreciate your response and civility of your tone. Atrocities do happen in time if war... That's why war is hell. I responded initially to denounce the ideas that this is common place. It is not the norm, which is proved by my experiances. Great care went into setting ROEs in place so as not to injure non combatants. These same ROEs actually put many US solders in more danger than nessassary. My main point was to say... Where is the Documentaries about the good that was done in these places? The construction projects, schools built, medical treatment and making the villages safer Docs? Thank you again for the response. V/R

  21. gustave courbet

    I think that what you've highlighted is one of the most frustrating things about the US government's use of military force. There are many good people in the Armed Services, but the situations they are being put in preclude the possibility of them having a net-positive impact. For example, Lt. General Jay Garner rapidly set about planning for inclusive elections in Iraq shortly after the US Invasion, only to be replaced by Paul Bremer, who outlawed the Ba'ath Party, disbanded the Iraqi military and set about privatizing Iraq's resources. These actions made any tactical successes of American armed forces irrelevant in the face of massive destabilization, all for the economic and political goals of D.C. politicians. I don't think we should have been there to begin with, but there was no real hope of success with such ideologues behind the decisions. Thanks for the reply, I'll leave you with a quote of two time Medal of Honor recipient Marine Corp Major General Smedley Butler:

    “I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

  22. DH37

    The stats is rather misleading. I checked the website and under "Wars since 1900". Say for China's 34 deployments, around 25 were civil wars in nature at its own territory, such as: cultural revolution, 1st, 2nd, 3rd warlord war, Communists vs Kumintang, Boxer rebellion. Others were conflicts at the border - with Vietnam, Russia. The rest were war with Japan, WW1 and WW2. Whereas most of the 24 counts from the USA were proactive deployments to other countries : Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Vietnam, Korea, Congo, Caco, Dominion Republic, Panama etc. The stats does not tell anything by just looking at the number.

  23. Fabien L'Amour

    I only wanted to illustrate to sharpstuff that the U.S.A. doesn't have the monopole on shooting innocent people and blowing things up and aren't the perpetrators of most of the unrest in the world.

  24. Sportsbruh

    actually you defined the amerikkan population

  25. morrisseyowesmemoney .

    "I hate Americans/American Imperialism" is such a tired cliche.

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