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‘The War Comes Home’: TV review

Soledad O’Brien special on CNN looks at a program to help veterans with PTSD

Soledad O’Brien’s newest special for CNN finds a ray of light in a dark situation: soldiers who return so traumatized by war that they feel like a real-life version of the walking dead.

The hope comes through Save a Warrior, which military veteran Jake Clark launched after his own long battle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

It’s an intense five-day program that touches on technical matters like how PTSD affects the brain. More importantly, it serves as a high-octane therapy group, telling participants they aren’t alone and reawakening, to be blunt, their will to live.

O’Brien follows two California veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars, Delon Beckett and Garrett Combs. Beckett says all his senses feel deadened. Combs has outbursts of rage.

Interestingly, and this is one of the most powerful aspects of “The War Comes Home,” both men have strong, supportive families and children. So their lives aren’t even close to empty. They just feel like they can’t connect any more.  The special itself becomes largely a feature on Save a Warrior, letting the stories of Beckett and Combs reflect the many other vets who suffer varying degrees of PTSD.

The larger question, of course, is what happens to all those others, since Save a Warrior only serves a few dozen.

One caution might be made. O’Brien quotes the widely cited figure that 22 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan commit suicide every day. In fact, a Los Angeles Times story recently noted, that figure covers all vets of all ages from all wars.

So the Iraq/Afghanistan number is much lower — which doesn’t make the problem any less urgent.

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