Those of you who have seen the documentary know that we spend a lot of time with troops — we did it because we think it is essential to understanding the chaplaincy. What we have found during screenings, though, is that this also helps create a bridge between civilians and military. So in developing additional shorts for Discussion Matters, we are including some that focus on experiences of military life.
We recently completed on that documents claims session in Fallujah, Iraq. Citizens had suffered damage to their homes during earlier military operations and, months later, a Marine unit is given cash and tasked with making reparations. They set up shop at a local school and put the word out. By six that morning, a long line of women and men has already formed, each clutching a claim. One by one, they file into the schoolroom where the Marines, headed by the JAG, have to determine whether the claim is legitimate and then how much to compensate the claimants for the material damage. Not an easy task… especially when the paperwork starts looking alike and the same photos crop up…. Yet there was no question that the US military had left much damage to homes and property in its wake. As the JAG who headed this operations mumbled at one point off camera, “they don’t teach you this in law school!”