|WARD 54 (63')
DIRECTED BY MONICA MAGGIONI
Since 2001, the number of suicides among the
military has increased exponentially.
In 2009, it surpassed the number of
war casualties. There are about 950 suicide attempts per
month among the veterans housed in government
18 veterans attempt suicide every
(Source US Army Times)
In Baghdad, US soldier Kris Goldsmith was
responsible for photographing and classifying Iraqi
corpses. Confronted with the horrific site of a mass
grave, something inside him snaps and he starts
experiencing nightmares and flashbacks. Returning to the
US, unable to come to terms with what he has witnessed and
suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Kris
reaches out for help, but nobody seems to appreciate his
growing desperation. Diagnosed with severe depression, he
asks to be discharged from the military but he is instead
ordered to return to Iraq and attempts suicide on Memorial
Day. Back in the US once again and traveling across
America, Kris meets the Luceys, the parents of Jeffrey, a
marine who took his own life upon his return from Iraq.
The heart-breaking account of Jeffrey's story by his
father Kevin reminds Kris of the moment he tried to take
his own life.
Kris' vivid retelling of his experience
is an accusation towards an America military ready to send
soldiers to war but not willing to handle their trauma
when they return. The story of Kris and Jeffrey and other
soldiers portrayed in "Ward 54" reveal the
harrowing predicament of many American families today.
While an average of 18 veterans attempt suicide every day
("Army Times"), many of them don't ask for help.
They?re too afraid to be isolated or of repercussions from
the military. Kristofer Goldsmith testified before
Congress and is now fighting a battle against the military
for their refusal to give him an honorable discharge
because of his suicide attempt.
WARD 54 is the psychiatric wing of
"Walter Reed Hospital",
Washington's D.C. veterans hospital.