Through hell and back

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Soldiers risk their lives on a daily basis, but fighting on the front lines is only half the battle. Coming home and transitioning to civilian life is a challenge in itself.

We are in the middle of a war. It’s hard to imagine the psychological challenges that soldiers face on the battlefield. Harder to imagine is the backdrop of constant terror endured by troops and Afghan civilians. As I write this, safe in the suburbs, I am removed from a war so far away. I live my life, worry my little worries, and live in a neurotic

Woody Allen-like haze of what dangers and inconveniences may come.

I imagine soldiers returning home would have little patience to hear civilians complain about traffic on the 405 or slow service at a restaurant.

To Hell and Back Again is a Sundance Film Festival award winner and Oscar-nominated 2011 documentary that chronicles the struggle of soldiers returning home from war after being discharged from the military.

It follows the life of U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Nathan Harris and his struggle with a gunshot wound to the hip, post-traumatic stress disorder and readjusting to home life. Sgt. Harris endures painful physical therapy as he tries to regain normalcy and find his place in the civilian world.

Many soldiers find difficulty dealing with the routine of life back home. Some opt to re-up for additional tours of duty because they find that military structure makes more sense to them.

The stigma attached to PTSD deters many soldiers from seeking the help they need. Veterans Resource Centers across America help soldiers like Sgt. Harris with the challenges of transitioning to daily life.

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The Veterans Resource Center at Santa Ana College has certified about 300 soldiers to receive benefits and assistance.

The VRC provides many services, such as guidance on how to use Veterans Affairs educational benefits, opportunities to talk with therapists or get information on other campus resources. Just as important, the center creates a bond between veterans and volunteers.

To Hell And Back Again reveals how painful a soldier’s journey can be. When a soldier steps over the threshold from combat and into their home it can be a tough landing.

There are many ways to reach out to our veterans.

Keeping the lines of support and communication open is the best way to encourage those suffering from PTSD to seek the help they need.

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