New Documentary Goes Beyond Just War Stories

Jacks & Knights: More Than Just War Stories is a documentary designed to provide a voice for military veterans who are struggling to re-integrate into the civilian world. The aim of the documentary is to show the military vets’ perspectives in becoming civilians again as well as their concerns and anxieties. Jacks & Knights would make for an intriguing series because it deals with a hidden issue involving people who have served and even put their lives on the line for this country.

While the issue is a potent one, the execution in the first episode of the potential series, titled “Integrity,” didn’t make the impact it could have. Lasting a little over 20 minutes, the episode introduces us to various of military veterans who answer a few questions about the difference of military and civilian life and what they have learned in the military. Some tend to mumble their answers, making it difficult to follow. However, others provided strong and, at times, emotional responses.

The biggest issue with the inaugural Jacks & Knights episode is that the video doesn’t seem to have the right flow. The aim is to get the audience invested in these veterans, but the episode tends to fall short of that despite some good comments and answers from some of the veterans. A big reason is that the questions feel out of place. The episode starts with the voice of an U.S. Air Force veteran who talks about the difficulties of returning to society after his return from a tour in Afghanistan. At the same time, images of military cemeteries, filled with rows and rows of white headstones are displayed.

As an opening monologue, it is serviceable enough. But then the questions start and the focus goes down an unexpected path. The first few questions deal with the differences between the military mentality and the civilian mentality and life. The first veteran to answer that question notes that whining is just as important as being able to do the job. For the entire first half of the episode, that thinking gets re-enforced way too much.

The series is trying to get people to support these veterans, but having these veterans tell why their military work and training makes them superior to how things are done in the civilian world won’t help when given right away. Ironically, some of the later questions and their answers provide some good material pertaining to the subject. The episode editors would have been better served by leading off with them.

A question showing the civilians’ uneven thoughts about military vets and whether the veterans feel positive or negative attitudes upon their return does more to frame their plight. Here, the groundwork about the difficulty veterans face gets laid out and paints them in a more sympathetic light. That should have been the main focus of this episode, but the material to set it up along those lines happen too late. All the material about the advantages military life have given these veterans can come later in the episode or even in future episodes.

In the end, audiences may be interested in the topic and want to care. But, parts of the episode needs to be moved around to provide more impact. You can support this worthy project by going to their crowdfunding page here: https://goo.gl/Hv0gqR