Tuesday, May 16, 2006
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Army surgeon general is warning that the HBO documentary "Baghdad ER" is so graphic that military personnel watching it could experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.This is probably true. And it's good that the Army recognizes this--and it's also good that they do not want the DC premiere to be a "social occasion." After the screening in NYC, people were mingling, but let me tell you it was not the right time for typical cocktail-party smalltalk. As for that final line, this movie may not be "anti-war", but it is, in fact, a strong statement against the Iraq war and occupation. You see what is happening, and can't help ask yourself "Why?" And there's no good answer to that question. None.
In a memo dated May 9 and obtained by CNN, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley said the film "shows the ravages and anguish of war."
"Those who view this documentary may experience many emotions," he said in the memo. "If they have been stationed in Iraq, they may re-experience some symptoms of post-traumatic stress, such as flashbacks or nightmares." (Watch what made a bloodied soldier in Baghdad plead for his life --3:33)
Kiley, who has watched the film with senior Army officials, said it is "an extremely graphic and moving look at how we care for severely wounded service members."
"This film will have a strong impact on viewers and may cause anxiety for some soldiers and family members."
He noted that "some may have strong reactions to the medical procedures such as the amputation of a limb."
Kiley said military medical treatment facilities should be ready to help troops and family members affected by the film. He suggested that mental health facilities should extend their treatment hours and reach out to the troops proactively.
Army officials said they fully support the film and note the Army gave the filmmakers access to the hospital. But privately they said it is so graphic that senior leaders do not want to turn Monday's premiere in Washington into a social occasion so many will not be attending, preferring to let the limelight fall on the military personnel.
After screening the film, officials said they are aware that some may use it to make an anti-war message.
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