In the past decade, we’ve seen plenty of documentaries and television
reports about returning veterans, not to mention the continuing and urgent news
stories about delayed benefits. But none of those has the unique personal perspective
of Wes Moore, who gives the timely series Coming
Back with Wes Moore its distinct and bracing tone: empathetic, astute, yet
never mawkish or self-congratulatory.
Moore, a veteran of Afghanistan and a best-selling author (The Other Wes Moore, about a convicted
murderer who shares his name) was inspired to make the series after one of his
best friends, another returned veteran, committed suicide just weeks after telling
Moore he was in the best place in his life. As he profiles people who have made
both successful and problematic returns, Moore and his production team unveil the daily challenges and moments of high drama, sometimes in unlikely
In the first episode, that drama comes from a one-sided
telephone conversation at a Veterans Crisis Line in Syracuse, where Letrice
Titus, herself a veteran, now works. Like Chris Phelan, who returned from
service and left an office job to join the Los Angeles police force, she found
that her best adjustment to post-military life was in a job that offered both
public service and an adrenalin rush that echoes the danger of being deployed
to a war zone. Among the series’ most important observations: ordinary life for
many veterans can’t be truly ordinary.
The three-week PBS series begins tomorrow on WNET in New
York (dates for other PBS stations may vary).