In an attempt to put haunting combat experiences behind them, two friends embark on an epic 2,700-mile trek on foot across America, seeking redemption and healing as a way to close the moral chasm opened by war. Almost Sunrise is an intimate, vérité film that eschews stereotypes and instead captures an unprecedented portrait of veterans — one of hope, potential and untold possibilities.
Watch POV: Almost Sunrise November 13 at 9:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS. Check listings for additional air-times.
Iraq veterans Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson, haunted by combat experiences, decided to distance themselves from their demons by taking a 2,700 mile walk from Milwaukee to Santa Barbara, seeking redemption, acceptance and a way to close the deep moral chasm opened by war. That trek is the centerpiece of Almost Sunrise.
The hike was no stroll in the park. Massive blisters, snow and a blazing sun were accompanied by constant mental replays of what Voss and Anderson call their "deployment reel"--memories of combat experiences brought vividly to life in graphic detail. As they walked, they kept a blog, maintained a social media presence, and read emails from supporters and veterans encouraged by their example. They also followed the news. Some 22 veterans were killing themselves each day.
Veteran suicides reached epidemic proportions in recent years, with many deaths blamed on "moral injury"--the result of transgressing deeply held beliefs during wartime. "Moral injury" is an evolving diagnosis without a fixed treatment plan. Veterans must often find their own way.
The film defines “moral injury” as "a wound to the soul inflicted by violating one's own ethical code." These wounds often result from unexpected situations over which a soldier had no control, including "collateral damage" and civilian casualties.
The filmmakers hope the film will raise awareness of moral injury, and contribute to the reduction of veteran suicides.