In 2007 and 2008, film directors Sebastian Junger and the late Tim Hetherington spent more than a year and a half documenting the lives of a small group of American G.I.s stationed in a remote outpost in the Korengal Valley of eastern Afghanistan, not far from the Pakistan border. Junger’s book, “War,” and their Academy Award nominated documentary, “Restrepo,” documented the intense combat and camaraderie that the men experiences as they were attacked by – and counter-attacked – an enemy they often couldn’t even see.
But the film didn’t tell the whole story. Sebastian Junger stayed in touch with many of the soldiers from his time in Afghanistan as they struggled to reintegrate into civilian life. Among the many stories they told him, one recurring theme was about how these men often come back from war burdened by feelings and emotions that too often go unexpressed, to the soldiers’ detriment, and says Junger, to our country’s as well.
Junger wrote about these men in a powerful essay in the New York Times called “Why Would Anyone Miss War?” In that piece, he proposed a provocative idea for how we might help those soldiers, and ourselves, come to grips with what he calls “the central tragedy of war.” We asked Sebastian Junger to talk with Need to Know about his possible remedy: