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Going To War

Airs Monday, May 27, 2019 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Marines at Eagle, Globe and Anchor ceremony, Oceanside, Calif. (undated photo)

Credit: Courtesy of Laura Snow

Above: Marines at Eagle, Globe and Anchor ceremony, Oceanside, Calif. (undated photo)

War Correspondent and Author Sebastian Junger, Vietnam War Veteran and Author Karl Marlantes, and Other Veterans Share Candid Accounts of Life Before, During and After Combat

“Going To War,” a 60-minute documentary about what it means to serve in and return from war, will air on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2019 at 9 p.m.

The film explores the paradox of war: a painful and horrific experience that also brings exhilaration, purpose, connection — and even love.

Going To War: Trailer

What is it really like to go to war? Filled with terror, pain and grief, it also brings exhilaration, and a profound sense of purpose. In "Going To War," renowned authors Karl Marlantes and Sebastian Junger help us make sense of this paradox and get to the heart of what it’s like to be a soldier at war. Veterans of various conflicts reveal some universal truths of combat with unflinching candor.

The film features two acclaimed storytellers of war — journalist and author Sebastian Junger, author of “The Perfect Storm” and director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Restrepo”; and Vietnam War veteran Karl Marlantes, author of the best-selling Vietnam combat novel “Matterhorn" and "What It Is Like to Go to War.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Laura Snow

Karl Marlantes and Colonel Kazmier Oceanside, Calif.

Joining Junger and Marlantes are veterans from various American wars who bring first-hand accounts and an abiding commitment to telling the warrior’s story with sensitivity and candor.

Why We Need to Know About War

Why it is important to understand the soldier’s experience of combat and for veterans to tell their stories.

“Going To War” captures the gritty mental and physical transformation of troops in training and follows them into the transformative experience of combat.

By delving into the psychologically complex world of warfare and its aftermath, the film reveals the challenges service members face when they return home and rejoin civilian society, revisit their life goals and aspirations, and ultimately redefine themselves.

The Emotions of War

Veterans talk about the feelings of sadness that are a central part of combat.

“Going To War” illuminates the deep human responses that transcend battles and cultures and are universal throughout history.

“We like to think of war as an aberration — but there’s scarcely been a time or a culture when humankind has not been at war. It’s universal,” said Junger. “We try really hard to keep combat at a distance, but when we talk about war, we are talking about what it means to be human.”

Paired with community engagement resources and compelling digital extras, the film will break new ground on how war impacts the lives of those who have served and the people who love them.

Coming Home

Veterans talk about how their service changed them and the challenges of coming home.

“The experience of war is difficult to fathom for those who’ve never seen combat,” said Michael Rosenfeld, executive producer and vice president of national production for Twin Cities PBS. “‘Going To War’ reveals what combat is really like through the words of remarkably candid service men and women.”

“‘Going To War’ is laser-focused on the importance of storytelling as a way to honor our veterans,” said Carole Tomko, general manager and creative director for Vulcan Productions. “To try to understand their experience is our first step toward honoring those who have gone to war to protect our freedom.”

Watch On Your Schedule:

This fill is available to stream on demand with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members ($60 yearly) using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.


Produced by Michael Epstein, “Going To War” is a production of Twin Cities PBS in association with Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions and PBS. Major funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports public content on military and veterans issues including the Veterans Coming Home project to bridge the military and civilian divide. Additional funding is provided by The Weber Family.


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