A group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq struggles to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield.
Thank You for Your Service is aptly titled, showing the gratefulness we need to show returning soldiers of war, after they have endured the ugliness and brutality of battle. The audience is shown the after-effects on the soldiers who return home and how the war affects their civilian lives. This movie does a remarkable job in revealing what a group of men try to forget, yet keep remembering long after they have taken their last shot at an enemy or after they have been shot at. The story opens in Iraq in April 2007.
Sgt. Adam Schumann (Miles Teller) returns to his wife Saskia (strongly played by Haley Bennett), daughter and young son. Miles Teller does a terrific job in portraying Schumann as a strong leader, showing us why he became a sergeant. At the same time, he reveals little cracks in his armor, appearing to be haunted by memories that only the audience sees what his flashbacks are about. He won’t let anyone else in, including his wife. He recalls dropping a soldier named Emory (Scott Haze) on cement steps and how that Emory, already badly injured by a shot to the head, wound up having a couple inches of his brain removed. He survived but has a difficult time getting around. Schumann also remembers his senior officer, SFC James Doster (Brad Beyer), who insisted he take Schumann’s place on an assignment and then was killed in battle. Schumann is riddled with guilt, blaming himself for both incidents.
The movie features some riveting drama. The soldiers are told by the Department of Veterans Affairs they will have to wait six to nine months to get psychiatric treatment. Becoming angry, Schumann tells a man at the office, “We did our job. We need you guys to do yours now.” Another mini storyline features Schumann’s friend, Solo (Beulah Koale), who quickly forgets details—such as the current date—and suffers so much due to the pain he witnessed and experienced that he turns to drugs in the form of Ecstasy. Another friend of Schumann’s returns to find his fiancé has moved out of their home, taken all of the furniture, his money, and no longer wants a relationship with him. All of the men contemplate suicide at one time or another due to the post-traumatic stress disorder they each are forced to live with.
This film isn’t for those that easily become queasy. It features scenes of bloody head wounds, including a bullet hole in one soldier’s head; a spray of blood as one former soldier shoots himself in the head; the use of strong and harsh language including sexual slang; and one scene shows a woman nude from the rear and side.
Its themes include brotherhood and soldiers looking out for those brothers. Schumann is the ultimate example of this in the film. Getting through life successfully is always a positive theme, and that is one of the themes in the movie. The film clearly shows what terrible horrors a soldier has to wade through to come out the other end.