Under the Radar

Iraq Veteran Alex Sutton Profiled in 'Farmer/Veteran'

Iraq war veteran Alex Sutton is profiled in Farmer/Veteran, set to air on Monday, May 29 at 10pm ET (check local listings) as part of the PBS Independent Lens series.

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After three combat tours in Iraq, three combat tours in Iraq, Alex Sutton takes over the family farm that his grandfather bought after his own service in Korea. Now Alex is hatching chicks and raising goats on 43 acres in rural North Carolina.

He's also struggling with post-traumatic stress, cycling between heightened awareness and “feeling zombified” from a cocktail of prescriptions meant to keep him stable. His stories about wartime experiences are vague and contradictory.

Directors Alix Blair and Jeremy M. Lange set out to make a movie about how farming could be therapeutic for wounded combat veterans, but they soon realized that Alex couldn't keep up with the work on the farm. They also learned that his stories of war conflict with his own military records.

Their focus shifted and Farmer/Veteran became a film about trauma, about how recovery can be slow and non-linear and how the stories that trauma survivors tell themselves have a powerful place in recovery — for better or worse. “So we made room for Alex’s own complicated truth and came to understood far more in return,” said Blair and Lange. “We want this film to call out our social responsibility to Alex, to all veterans returning home, that we must share in the burden of the long after-war. We do this by making time and space to receive their stories, compassionately meeting them wherever they are in their journey.”

 

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