Every day on the news, we see images of war across the world. We hear stories of the men and women who have served in said wars and what they’ve seen. But few if any of those stories has gone into true details of the effects of serving overseas. Now thanks to writer/director Michael Brown, audiences get a chance to hear firsthand from a group of nearly a dozen recent veterans, the impact of having served. It’s a poignant story that will move audiences not only because of the soldiers’ own stories, but also because of the hope and determination instilled in them by each other and by their families.There is no way for anyone who has never served to have any idea what exactly a soldier goes through physically, emotionally, or psychologically both while serving and after having returned from war. The stories presented in High Ground do a very good job of giving viewers an idea of what our nation’s finest go through every day of their lives. Hearing these veterans’ stories will move any viewer, military or not. It’s interesting to note that there is a recurring theme among the soldiers in that they feel alone and that they don’t want to talk about what they have and are going through. This echoes what a lot of WWII veterans went through in coming home from the European and Pacific theaters of war. Equally moving is the sense of hope and optimism brought to them in their journey to Nepal.
The group of eleven veterans heads to Nepal to climb Mount Lobuche. As the group makes its climb, each member of the group shares his or her story with their fellow soldiers. The reactions by both those telling the stories and those hearing them are so painful to experience. It shows that while they may have been trained to kill, they are still humans. They are people. They feel pain just like anyone else. Yet it’s through that shared pain that the group is able to find hope and push on to meet its goal. The vets’ reactions upon reaching the top of Mount Lobuche are the ultimate statement. Viewers can tell that each climber knows they have overcome not just a mountain but an emotional mountain, too. It is without a doubt the single most emotional moment and the perfect culmination to this group’s journey. After it’s all said and done, High Ground will leave any viewer, military or not with a whole new appreciation for what our nation’s men and women in uniform do every day.
High Ground is not an anti-war documentary. This needs to be addressed right here. High Ground is a story of—as director Michael Brown notes in the director’s commentary—human spirit. It shows a group of people who have faced great odds, and used a great odd of another kind to help them face those far greater odds and beat them. Sure there are comments about conditions at the now closed Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and the issues that one vet had with the VA. But they aren’t comments against the military. These statements help to illustrate what the veterans have endured on their journey of recovery. Understanding this and hearing what each veteran has endured will leave every viewer agreeing that High Ground is one of this year’s best documentaries. It is available in stores and online now.
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