Portraying the life of American troops

It’s a big week for The American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast, which in this week’s episode welcomes Sebastian Junger, author of “Tribe” and “War.”

Additionally, co-host Jeff Daly appeared on the Washington Journal’s special Memorial Day podcast. You can listen to Daly talk about Tango Alpha Lima, The American Legion, veterans issues and more in the archived edition here.

Junger, an award-winning author, is also a documentary filmmaker. Along with photographer Tim Hetherington, Junger created “Restrepo,” an unnarrated documentary about a U.S. platoon in Afghanistan. The film, which was nominated for an Academy Award, follows the men of 2nd Platoon, Battle Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade. The loss of medic Juan "Doc" Restrepo leads the platoon to name an outpost in the remote Korengal Valley after him.

“It was my first documentary film,” Junger explains, saying it won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. “Tim Hetherington and I shot all the footage for it. There was a lot of combat. We got hundreds of hours of footage of life in this remote outpost. We wanted to make a film that simply portrays what it is like to be an American soldier.”

Junger is also the founder and director of Vets Town Hall. The events allow veterans of any era to stand before their community and speak for up to 10 minutes about what it was like to serve their country. These events are non-political, and all perspectives are valued, he explained.

“I realized the struggle that many veterans have with coming home may not reflect the trauma of combat so much as the disjointed nature of our modern society. For most of human history, people fought and survived in small groups, 30 to 40 people. People suffered in groups and recovered in groups. American veterans are very different. They are traumatized in groups, if they are in combat, and they recover alone because we live in a very individualized society.”

Last and certainly not least, the podcast co-hosts discuss the new American Legion “Be The One” campaign that aims to reduce the rate of veteran suicide. “It’s more than about racing,” Daly said. “It’s about keeping our brothers and sisters alive.”

This episode is among more than 120 Tango Alpha Lima podcasts for veterans, servicemembers and others. All episodes are available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on iTunes, Stitcher or other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available for viewing at the Legion’s YouTube channel.