I was discharged from the military the week of September 11, 2001. I filled out my separation documents literally within a stone's throw of the smoldering Pentagon. I was sure someone was going to take one look at my paperwork and tear it into pieces. Part of me hoped they would. But I was never asked to stay on. Not much need in the middle of the Afghan desert for a guy trained to track submarines. Still, when I peeled off my flightsuit for the last time, I placed it in a box that I kept close at hand for the next several years. Being recalled to service, despite the fulfillment of my contract, was a very real possibility.
In Stop-Loss, it is a reality that Army Sergeant Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) knows all too well. After two combat tours, one in Afghanistan and another on the killing streets of Baghdad, the decorated squad leader returns home to Texas. Haunted by the friends he's led to gory deaths and the civilians who have inadvertently fallen into his crosshairs, King, who is due to get out, wants nothing more than to retreat to the sanctuary of his parents' ranch and begin purging the bile of the past several years from his life.
But home is far from the respite that soldiers like King expect. No matter where in the world they go, they cannot get away from their own memories. Shattered by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), King and his fellow soldiers find adjusting to stateside life impossible. Likewise, their families no longer recognize the boys they sent off to war. The soldiers' wives and lovers can no longer relate to men who live teetering on the edge of profound brutality and who, like Lady MacBeth, cannot seem to wash the ever-present blood from their hands. Iraq, for all of its carnage, made sense; ...1
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