War Torn

What does an ex-anchor do with his time? Tom Brokaw spent the better part of this past year putting together a sobering report that aired Sunday on the Iraq war’s psychological ramifications. Called To War and Back, the hourlong special traced the battle scars of a close-knit group of seven college-age National Guardsmen from Glens Falls, New York, who have been dealing with the death of one of their own, and various physical and psychic wounds. It wasn’t an overtly politically charged hour — the dead soldier’s mother is seen speaking out about the lack of armor that can be directly tied to her son’s death on a mission into insurgent-addled Samarra, and ultimately sounds resigned that it will always be a problem for the troops — but like the most gripping tales of any war, the stories had a timeless feel. The guy who served as a medic doesn’t want to go into medicine anymore, fearing horrific recall of his Iraq tour any time he might treat a patient’s broken body. The guitar player lost four of his fingers — and the creative outlet he always thought would keep him on an even keel. None regret their service, but they all show the effects of being weekend warriors unexpectedly thrown into fierce combat. And then there’s the red tape they’re all experiencing that prevents them from getting on with their lives. Are these unusual stories? No. But they are stories that aren’t covered as often as they should be — which is probably why To War and Back worked so well.

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