WARD 54 (63')

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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 facilities.

18 veterans attempt suicide every day.

(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.