In the past decade, we've seen plenty of documentaries and television reports about returning veterans, not to mention the continuing and urgent news stories about delayed benefits. But none of those has the unique personal perspective of Wes Moore, who gives the timely series Coming Back with Wes Moore its distinct and bracing tone: empathetic, astute, yet never mawkish or self-congratulatory.
Moore, a veteran of Afghanistan and a best-selling author (The Other Wes Moore, about a convicted murderer who shares his name) was inspired to make the series after one of his best friends, another returned veteran, committed suicide just weeks after telling Moore he was in the best place in his life. As he profiles people who have made both successful and problematic returns, Moore and his production team unveil the daily challenges and moments of high drama, sometimes in unlikely places.
In the first episode, that drama comes from a one-sided telephone conversation at a Veterans Crisis Line in Syracuse, where Letrice Titus, herself a veteran, now works. Like Chris Phelan, who returned from service and left an office job to join the Los Angeles police force, she found that her best adjustment to post-military life was in a job that offered both public service and an adrenalin rush that echoes the danger of being deployed to a war zone. Among the series' most important observations: ordinary life for many veterans can't be truly ordinary.