Introduction by Sandra Davidson
Earlier this month, I heard a retired disabled Afghan war combat veteran talk about how difficult it was to reintegrate into civilian life. The man, who had battled depression and post traumatic stress disorder, likened the experience to “figuring out how to feel human again.” The former soldier said that’s all he and this new generation of veterans want.
I couldn’t stop thinking about that as I watched Alex Sutton struggle to grow crops, rear livestock and build a new family in the documentary film Farmer/Veteran. Set in rural North Carolina, the film documents Sutton’s efforts to create an identity after retiring from three combat tours in Iraq.
A self-described “perfect soldier,” Sutton is an inexperienced, but committed farmer. He plows, he harvests, and he diligently watches over his poultry and livestock, and yet he cannot escape the demons that haunt him from war.
His physical, emotional and mental traumas manifest themselves in his panic attacks, in his need to keep automatic weapons close, and in his struggle to cope with the personal sacrifices he made in service of this country. His personal account of what happened during his combat tours is confusing and at times contradictory, but there is no question that Sutton himself is still struggling to make sense of it all too.
Farmer/Veteran is a sincere film about an American soldier and the people in his life who are helping him survive and live again. It’s a film that reminds me of the hundreds of thousands of veterans in North Carolina who have so much to offer and who deserve the gift and honor of service returned to them by their fellow citizens. It’s a film you should and can see courtesy of our friends at UNC-TV until June 30.
And for a peek behind the scenes at the making of the original score, check out this video.