‘Coming Back’ not always smooth, easy

Wes Moore is an engaging young former U.S. Army paratrooper.

He’s been to hell, seen it up close. Moore, a captain in the Army, has come back home and has gotten his life started. He lives with his wife and daughter in New York. He’s an accomplished author and television producer. Upon his return, Moore became a White House fellow, serving as a special assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Moore also has a story to tell about his experiences in hell.

He served in combat in Afghanistan and he has seen up close the toll that service in war does to young men and women. Moore has produced a three-part series called “Coming Back,” which is airing on Panhandle PBS. The second installment will be broadcast Tuesday night at 7. The first segment aired this past week and you can see it on the attached link.


Moore’s story in reality is as old as war itself, which means — quite tragically — it is as old as civilization as we’ve known it. In our country’s history, young Americans have gone to battle and returned changed fundamentally. Do they all suffer from what used to be called “shell shock,” but is now known as “post traumatic stress disorder”? No. But they’re changed, perhaps if only in the eyes of those who knew them before they left.

Moore seeks to tell the story of how young American servicemen and women have reintegrated into the world they left behind. Most of them make it back. Some of them don’t.

Perhaps most tragically of all is this statistic: More young Americans today are dying by suicide than they are in battle in Afghanistan. That’s a two-pronged testament to (a) the fact that our military involvement in Afghanistan is winding down and (b) that young warriors are having extreme difficulty adjusting to a return to what they once considered “normal.”

The second part of Moore’s series that airs Tuesday focuses on the idea of fitting in at home after soldiers are fundamentally changed by war. Part 1 focused on the difficulty that many returning warriors face as they leave the battlefield and seek some form of peace and tranquility at home.

Veterans issues are in the news these days. The Department of Veterans Affairs is dealing now with an unfolding scandal over the way it provides health care for veterans. Americans have rallied to the side of returning veterans and exhibited public displays of respect and, yes, affection for these young warriors. The media are full of stories telling of heartfelt homecomings.

What happens, though, when the bunting, balloons and “Welcome home” banners come down?

That’s what Wes Moore wants us to see.


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