"Almost Sunrise" -- free film screening

Free screening and discussion of Almost Sunrise,  7:00pm, Friday evening, October 20, at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 2315 Chicago Ave. South, Minneapolis. Almost Sunrise is a story of veteran resilience and recovery.  Almost Sunrise is the first feature documentary film to introduce the emerging term “moral injury.” The film follows two Iraq veterans who struggle with depression upon returning home to Wisconsin from their deployments.

The Coming Home Collaborative will be screening the feature documentary by Michael Collins & Marty Syjuco in advance of the national premier November 13 on some PBS stations.  This event is a collaboration with POV, PBS' award-winning nonfiction film series. Learn more at

Fearful of succumbing to the epidemic of veteran suicide, they seek a lifeline and embark on a 2,700-mile walk across America as a way to confront their inner pain.

The film captures an intimate portrait of two friends suffering from the unseen wounds of war as they discover an unlikely treatment: the restorative power of silence and meditation.

The film offers awareness on moral injury.   In the promotional material, a vet speaks: “Love is the opposite of war… ‘I terminated all that love in all those people’s lives’, that’s an awful thing to live with.”

 According to the news release, while the physical trek across snowy mountains and vast deserts is punishing, the inner journey proves to be, by far, the most dangerous mission Tom and Anthony will ever undertake. Like many of their fellow returned servicemen and women, Tom and Anthony are tackling post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD), but the pair are simultaneously dealing with an unseen battle scar called “moral injury” – often manifested as an extreme brand of guilt or shame that arises when one goes against one’s own moral code in the line of duty. The injury can arise in a variety of forms ranging from “....perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to, or learning about acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations,” according to Dr. Brett Litz, a pioneer of the study of moral injury. It can be sustained from an action one takes or one believes he or she failed to take.

“I didn’t sign up to terrorize people,” says Emmet Cullen, a veteran who completed military training with Tom, recalling an instance in which he was commanded to arrest a group of Iraqi men whom he knew in his conscience to be innocent of a serious crime. “To this day, I don’t know what happened to them.”

While PTSD, characterized by fear, can be treated with drugs, therapists are finding that no amount of medication can alleviate the pain that comes from carrying a moral burden. Almost Sunrise is the first feature documentary film to introduce the emerging term “moral injury.” What PTSD is to the Vietnam War, some experts believe moral injury may soon become for today’s conflicts, eventually recognized as the signature war wound of our generation.

7:00pm,  Friday, October 20, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 2315 Chicago Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55404.  No charge.