GERMAN TV RUNS FIRST MOVIE FOCUSING ON THE TROUBLES WHICH GERMAN VETERANS FACE COMING BACK FROM AFGHANISTAN By Kevin Stoda, Wiesbaden, Germany
On Monday, February 2, 2009, ARD-TV will be the first German TV station to show a film reviewing the life and treatment of German soldiers since 1992 when troops were first sent to Somalia. The new film relates problems faced by soldiers returning from NATO service in Afghanistan and on other continents. The film is called simply “Welcome Back Home”, directed by Christian Pfannenschmidt.
This lack of veterans’ issue coverage in Germany contrasts significantly with the situation in the U.S., where several TV series as well as many movies and documentaries have covered or explored U.S. veterans lives and home front experiences over the past two decades. Here are a few examples:
Naturally, as the number of U.S. young people coming back from war and committing suicide reached an all-time high in 2008, Americans (unlike the former Bush-Cheney administration) realized that they can ill-afford to ignore the veterans’ experiences and the traumas that they and their families face day-after-day.
In 2008 at least 128 U.S. military vets committed suicide — the highest level ever recorded.
In autumn of 2008, CBS went further than most investigators in recent decades by exposing the high level of military related suicides dating back to the Vietnam War.
According to CBS programming and noted University of Georgia researchers, “One age group stood out [in the decades-long study]. Veterans aged 20 through 24, those who have served during the war on terror. They had the highest suicide rate among all veterans, estimated between two and four times higher than civilians the same age." (The suicide rate for non-veterans is 8.3 per 100,000, while the rate for veterans was found to be between 22.9 and 31.9 per 100,000.)
THE EXPERIENCE OF WAR GERMAN VETERANS
Due to the aftermath of WWII and the Nazi-era, Germans as a whole have had to pretend that they are a more peaceful people than most—and many of them are.