Danya Institute Inc.

DVD review: When I Came Home

The Danya Institute and Central East Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network are pleased to present original reviews of books and movies of special interest to our stakeholders.  

When I Came Home is an authentic and gritty portrait of an Iraqi war veteran’s struggle to rebuild his life back in the states.  Dan Lohaus’ powerful 2006 documentary is now available for free viewing online at snagfilms.com.

This film allows Herold Noel to tell his story in his own words.  He left his hometown of Brooklyn New York to join the service because it was a place with very few opportunities for a young person without an education.  However, he returns to face all of the same challenges he tried to leave behind.  In addition he now must also cope with the torment of traumatic memories of his time in Iraq.  His PTSD frequently robs him of his sleep and ability to function normally.

We see him struggle to find shelter and assistant for himself and his children in the face of an extremely bureaucratic and unhelpful system.  This experience transforms him into an activist, speaking out to everybody in government and the media who will listen.  While he is the main character, we also meet several other veterans from both Iraq and Vietnam as well.

It is actually fortunate that there is not too much focus on facts and expert talking heads in this film, as the number of homeless veterans has been reduced considerably since it was made.   Undoubtedly this moving film and the work of Herold Noel and others forced the Veterans Administration to make significant strides in reducing homelessness among its veterans.  However, there is still much work to be done.  The film remains a powerful testament to the difficulties veterans face when trying to rejoin the civilian world.

review by Simone Fary