‘Where Soldiers Come From’ Tracks Close-Knit Unit

BY Saskia de Melker  November 10, 2011 at 4:09 PM EDT

“We didn’t think we had changed. We thought we were back from war and we were good to go,” says 24-year-old combat veteran Dominic Fredianelli.

Fredianelli is one of a tight-knit group of childhood friends from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who joined the National Guard together after graduating high school. In “Where Soldiers Come From,” a documentary airing Thursday night on POV, filmmaker Heather Courtney follows them over four years that include a deployment to Afghanistan, where they spend their days searching for improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Courtney then returned home with the unit to continue to tell the story of the veterans as they cope with reintegrating into their small town community, recovering from psychological and physical impacts of war at home.

We recently talked with Dominic Fredianelli and Cole Smith, two of the young vets featured in “Where Soldiers Come From,” when they were in Washington, D.C. for a special screening of the film at the U.S. Capitol.

Both are now out of the National Guard, and are trying to move forward and recover from psychological and physical impacts of war. Fredianelli and Smith say they didn’t realize how much they had changed as a result of their deployment until they saw the film.

Filmmaker Heather Courtney originally returned to her hometown in Michigan with the intent of making a film about rural America. However, as she followed this group of friends, she discovered how intricately war was interwoven into the experience of small communities across the country.

NewsHour Art Beat first sat down with the film’s director this past spring at the Full Frame documentary festival.

Watch Coming of Age in Wartime on PBS. See more from PBS NEWSHOUR.

“Where Soldiers Come From” will air on POV on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 9 p.m. ET. on PBS and will be streaming online on the POV site from November 11 through December 11. Check your local listings.