This past weekend, a group of nearly 30 Team Rubicon members gathered near Boston to see Sebastian Junger’s new documentary, Korengal. The film is Junger’s second following 2nd Platoon, B Co, 2/503rd IN, 173rd Airborne’s 2007-2008 deployment to the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan.
Korengal is an attempt to show the realities of war absent from most Hollywood productions: the mind-numbing boredom between patrols, the crushing drop in adrenaline after a firefight, the brotherhood forged from 15 months at a remote outpost. Through footage from the deployment and interviews with the platoon’s soldiers, Korengal tries to make sense of the complex internal struggles that war yields.
At a Q&A session for the film, Sgt. Brendan O’Byrne of 2nd Platoon talked about why it is often so difficult for veterans to transition back into society.
“For me, it was really hard to come back to the US and try to fill what I had inside Afghanistan — as in the brotherhood, a group of people who would literally die for me, and also trying to find a purpose. Our society is ‘I’ — all ‘Me, me, me, me,’ and in combat, it’s only ‘we.’ You can’t have anything besides ‘we’ in combat. If you have ‘I,’ everyone dies.”
“And that’s one of the things that’s so hard to come home to, because you come from a group so tight, and then you come back to the US it’s ‘I’, it’s ‘me,’ nothing about the group anymore. So I think everyone that gets out of the military, even if they haven’t been in combat, has a hard time transitioning. It feels great to be part of ‘we.’ It’s a great feeling to be part of a group. It’s a great feeling to know that people have your back.”
For our group in Region 1, the screening was a chance for team members to connect with each other outside of a disaster response and open a dialogue about their own experiences. Perhaps just as important, though, the event provided an opportunity for our team’s families and friends to gain more perspective into those experiences.
Team Rubicon has become a means for thousands of veterans to fill the hole that Brendan described and find “we” again in their own communities at home. This film has helped veterans and civilians alike understand why that need exists.