Commentary By Ron Beasley
Today President Obama signed a bill giving tax credits to employers hiring veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. A worthy cause and similar to efforts that I was part of during the Vietnam war. Even those soldiers who are not physically injured are mentally injured and employers know this. Vietnam was bad, Iraq was worse. I was a member of the military during the Vietnam war and although I was never in Vietnam I knew many who were. Most of those he served in Vietnam were OK when they came home but many were not. From what I have seen even more of the Iraq war veterans are not OK. If I were an employer I would think twice before hiring an Iraq war veteran. That brings us to the movie - In the Valley of Elah.
In 2004, in Munro, Tennessee, the former Sergeant and owner of a tow truck Hank Deerfield tries to contact his son Mike in Fort Rudd after a period serving in Iraq. However, he is informed that his son is missing in the base and has become Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL). Hank drives to the base to search his son and after an interview with the military staff, he is not convinced of the answers; then he goes to the police precinct telling that Mike is a missing person. However, the jurisdictional conflict between the Army and the police associated to a lack of interest in the case leaves Hank in limbo. Detective Emily Sanders feels sympathy for Hank and together they investigated and discover dirty little secrets with an impressive case of dehumanization caused by the invasion and consequent war in Iraq.
When his son who has just returned from Iraq goes AWOL/missing Hank Deerfield, a retired military investigator, discovers that his son was murdered by his fellow Iraq war veterans. He also discovers that his son and his fellow soldiers return from Iraq damaged even if it's not physical. That is a somewhat intangible cost of war.