Sometimes a movie seems to slip through the cracks and audiences miss a golden opportunity to watch something special. A perfect example of this would be January’s release of Sgt. Will Gardner. It seems everyone will have a chance to rectify this as Max Martini’s latest project is coming to DVD on February 19th. Rarely has a film been able to accurately capture the plight facing our veterans as they return home from protecting our freedoms abroad. Martini’s narrative makes the point that some vets don’t make it back after experiencing the trauma of combat. If anyone just took a moment and pondered that, it really shouldn’t be that surprising. We are talking about men and women who go from normal lives to ones where enemies are potentially shooting rockets at them. Who could recover from that?
While the film does highlight Will’s mental road home from the horrors he saw in Iraq, Sgt. Will Gardner shines a bright light on the ongoing issues afflicting the Veterans Administration. Government red tape has made it next to impossible for some of our nations greatest heroes to get the simplest of treatment. At one point we learn of a fellow veteran who had to wait over a year to see about getting a proper prosthetic leg (as his leg had to removed to injuries sustained in combat). As shocking as that seems, it doesn’t compare to the treatment Martini’s character had to go through.
In Sgt. Will Gardner, his unit is injured when a massive car bomb exploded near his unit. Gardner is diagnosed with a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) which impacts many of our heroes returning home. One would think that after something that impactful occurs to a solider, the treatment would be ongoing. The reality is that Martini’s character (like I imagine many other soldiers in real life) received minimal care. Now, this film isn’t condemning those who give our warriors care; it is saying that the system needs to do more.
Now is the film perfect? No, there’s this whole portion of the narrative when Will is going cross country, and he’s mistaken as a certain actor from Breaking Bad which could have quickly been taken out, but the film’s message is clear. Sgt. Will Gardner is a clear example of how just merely ignoring a problem won’t make it go away.