Thoughts on Stop-Loss

Call it a breach of contract, involuntary servitude, or a backdoor draft, whatever way you look at it, soldiers are forced to put their lives in danger against their will. The movie Stop-Loss, had failed at the box office, attracting only vets to relive the frightful memories. But it succeeded at telling a real-life story of not only hundreds of thousands of soldiers who were stop-lossed, but of millions suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) as a result of this horrendous and pointless war.

Stop-Loss, a term applied to contracts across many fields. But in military terms, it means:
“Orders that authorize the military to suspend nearly all discharges, transfers, and retirements, and to retain soldiers at Army’s disposal. As troop strength is strained by activity in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of active-duty soldiers and reservists are forced to remain in uniform after fulfilling the terms of their contracts. Many could be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan for second or third tours of combat.” – Boston Globe

Three days after September 11th, and 11 times since, President Bush charged numerous troops back to duty, to avoid an unpopular draft. Either way, Bush is damned if he did, damned that he didn’t.

“The stop-loss policy is wrong; it runs contrary to the concept of the volunteer military set up in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.” NYTimes

Voice of America (VoA) states that “during the Vietnam War, a soldier only had to do one tour of duty. Soldiers today are sometimes sent back for three or four tours. So they're subjected to multiple threats to their livelihood.”

Something that the movie describes all too well, is the state of the soldiers returning from deployment, adjusting to civilian life, starting life from scratch because their services don’t translate well to cubicle environment. Some continue to sleep with their fan on, as they did in the bunkers to muffle the noise of bombs and helicopters, some react as drastically as they were taught, kill or be killed, and some lose perception of reality altogether.

VoA also adds that as a result of PTSD we’ll “see an explosion of domestic violence, homelessness, substance abuse, because there are no resources to take care of these soldiers when they come home. It's just not there."

Anyway, check out the movie Stop-Loss and see if you agree with the reviews:

Rolling Stone
Here's the first major movie of the new year that touches greatness, and damn if there isn't a curse hanging over it.

TIME Magazine
As a nation, we owe them more than they owe us -- as this painfully necessary and heartfelt movie makes abundantly clear.

Detroit News
There's a keen and ugly sense of anguish to Stop-Loss, a caged sense of powerlessness beyond political outrage that makes this film far and away the most effective effort yet at capturing the frustration of the war in Iraq.

New Yorker
Stop-Loss is not a great movie, but it’s forceful, effective, and alive, with the raw, mixed-up emotions produced by an endless war -- a time when the patriotism of military families is in danger of being exploited beyond endurance.

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