War and Peace of Mind: Helping America's Veterans
How the War Changed Him
Art imitates life for Kimberly Peirce, who cowrote and directed the movie Stop-Loss after hearing stories from her then-18-year-old brother about his life as a soldier in Iraq. Ryan Phillippe stars as Sergeant Brandon King, a squad leader who fights to maintain his comrades' emotional well-being after an ambush during which three of the 10 are killed just before they are to return home. Once stateside, despite war heroes' welcomes, the veterans struggle with nightmares, hallucinations, alcohol abuse, rage, and crumbling marriages -- the same mental-health problems that some clients of Give an Hour might experience. King is eventually called back into the Army under the military's "stop-loss" measure, which allows involuntary extensions of service in wartime. The remainder of the movie follows King as he wrestles over whether to comply with the order. Peirce, who directed the Oscar-winning Boys Don't Cry, had her brother screen the movie for authenticity. Stop-Loss opens nationwide on March 28.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, April 2008.