Milwaukee Film Festival 2016: Almost Sunrise
By Andrea Thompson
There are few things more sobering than the realization that you might become a statistic. But in the documentary “Almost Sunrise,” that is exactly the fear Iraq War veterans Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson faced when they returned home and found civilian life so difficult to cope with, they considered becoming among the 22 veterans every day committing suicide. Instead, they chose to walk 2700 miles, from Wisconsin to California, in an attempt to save themselves and raise awareness about other veterans who are also struggling. PTSD among veterans is not a new topic, but Voss and Anderson speak of a different, deeper issue: moral injury. Its essence lies in the fact that they have done things which conflict with their moral code, and are unable to reconcile that. So their journey continues after the walk, delving into spiritual medicine and healing. In the process, we see not only Voss and Anderson's transformation, but also a kind of rebirth as they forgive themselves and god. The more institutional issue could be explored more, such as their ambivalence with the VA, as well as the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Yes, the goal of “Almost Sunrise” is to show the emotional side of war and recovery, but when the personal is so tied into the the economical and thus the political, its absence from the discussion here is felt. But the documentary does such an excellent job of what it does choose to focus on that it's hardly missed.