In the new movie, “Thank You for Your Service,” Adam Schumann (played by Miles Teller) struggles to cope with the rigors of returning to his old life while carrying the emotional burden of tragedy and guilt he picked up throughout a particularly difficult deployment to Afghanistan.  His two friends, Aieti and Waller, also find themselves unsure of how to adjust to world they left behind, as they come to realize that not only has it changed, but they have as well.

The challenges these soldiers face in the film are a reflection of those faced by real veterans every day, including the real Adam Schumann, who served as the motivation first for the book, and then for the screenplay of “Thank You for Your Service.”  Like so many veterans, this topic is of particular import to me, as I’ve lost more friends to emotional and mental struggles, than I have to enemy contact.

Not long after watching the movie, the studio reached out and offered me the opportunity to sit down with the real Adam Schumann, as well as Miles Teller and Jason Hall, who wrote and directed the film.  Because of my personal connection to the subject matter, I was not only excited to sit down with some certified Hollywood types (I live in Georgia, so it’s an uncommon occurrence) but more so, I was eager to hear about the thought that went into the film’s creative choices when depicting a demographic I hold so dear, as well as the challenges they face.

Jason Hall, who also wrote the screenplay for “American Sniper,” made his directorial debut with this film, and immediately upon meeting him it’s clear that he’s passionate not just about the movie, but about the cause that serves as it’s driving force: veteran suicide.  A pretty imposing man, it’s not necessarily his physical presence that commands the room, so much as his confidence, and the way he interacts with you directly while ensuring the room remains engaged.  It’s easy to see why he made the jump to directing.

As we sat down across a conference room table at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta, I had a sense that these three guys weren’t quite sure what to expect from me, which was fitting, because I had driven there that afternoon feeling the very same way about them.  We exchanged pleasantries before getting down to business, and in what I feel was a rather telling gesture, one of the first things Hall asked me was if I would recommend this movie to other people who have had similar experiences.

The question wasn’t born out of insecurity, it was an opportunity for Hall to look his audience in the eye and see if his work had struck a chord.  Hall wasn’t asking if I felt the movie was marketable, Oscar worthy, or going to make a hundred million dollars; what seemed to matter to him, was that he’d done us, the veterans, a service in his telling of one of our stories.

I asked Hall about the film’s depiction of veterans, and if he felt the struggles shown on-screen could lend itself to a public perception of veterans as “damaged goods.”

The story we told was true, and as you know, not everybody suffers with this.  This is a movie about the guys David [Finkel] followed home in the book, and I encourage everybody to pursue stories about veterans, but this was a war story we hadn’t seen before.” Hall explained.