Have You Been Vetted?
By Lana Duffy
There’s a new show trying to break out these days, and it’s called Vetted. On the heels of the short run of Enlisted, which we in the military community fairly consistently wanted to see succeed, it is a new look at some of the realities of coming home.
And it’s a comedy.
And it’s a damn sight correct.
The overall story arch is pretty simple. Guy (Danny) gets out of the Marine Corps. We join him immediately following the end of his terminal leave. He decided to move back to New York City with his parents while he figures out his next move.
Move such as, you know, getting off his parents’ couch which is several feet too short and in the living room where his father wakes him up nice and early with a daily throat clear.
Or finding a job to figure out what he wants to be since firing heavy artillery at long-range targets is not a thing you do in Manhattan.
Or trying to pick up girls in the bar when half your stories end in something getting dead or destroyed or both.
The list goes on, as do the creepy accuracies even though Danny is a fictional character.
The show addresses a few key, important points. First, it’s relatable. Those of us leaving the service have all been there, and some of us are still there. This is a scripted show, but it may as well be reality TV for some of us.
What I really liked, though, was that I could laugh at it. Like Enlisted had me reminiscing about motor pool and junior soldier antics no matter how crappy things sometimes seemed, Vetted had me smiling at recalling my trying to explain to my civilian friends what I’d done the last ten years and my somewhat desperate attempts to find work I was grossly over-, or under-, qualified for. Veterans who watch this show finally have something to relate to, something pretty… normal.
Transition was (and still can be) a scary time, but it was also liberating. I could sleep in. I could work out when I wanted. I could reconnect with friends and family and no one needed a pass form if I wanted to travel out of state to do it.
Some people react more to the scary and the negative. Yes, there is a high rate of veteran depression and suicide and that needs to be addressed and is getting some very deserved attention. But there are also the other aspects of transition, and the other aspects of vets, that aren’t addressed as often, especially those that aren’t the worst case scenarios. There are the ones who are actually pretty okay, just might need a boost to acclimate back into the world. And the ones that don’t fit the media’s concept of “broken veterans” are largely ignored while still being judged by those who may not even know “normal” veterans exist, and that of course can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. They still need jobs, they still need school, they still need healthcare and friendships and family and maybe to be successful at picking someone up at the bar this weekend.
Because really, most of us are pretty average veterans, aren’t we? That is, after all, the definition of “average.” We have ups and downs, as you imagine future episodes of Vetted will address, but ultimately it’s the same basics that everyone needs to survive in New York City or anywhere. His best friend is about to leave the Corps and join him. His old friends are around to be supportive and give him a swift kick in the ass if they feel he needs it. His parents are letting him squish onto the tiny couch awhile longer.
He is… me, maybe two years ago. Well, I wasn’t trying to make out with chicks (sorry, boys), but otherwise, yes, exactly.
So Vetted is important. It not only relates well to the veterans, but it also reminds the viewer that yes, veterans have issues adjusting, but not all of them are going to terrify you or snap unpredictably, they are just issues that people have. We may not have all the skills those who remained “on the outside” developed over the past four or more years. We miss our brotherhood and our strangely comforting way of life that always involved knowing what we were going to wear tomorrow. But really we just want to have a good time as we start living their lives again. That’s the story we haven’t heard, and that’s the one we need to tell.
Vets are people too.
Watch the trailer here thanks to the 50% veteran-owned production company, ADD Productions.
Vetted is written and directed by USMC and Afghanistan veteran Paul Mooney. The executive producer is a US Army Vietnam veteran as well, and a handful of other staff and primary supporters are also veterans. The show is expected to enter several film festivals in 2015, and is currently vying for network attention. If you are interested in scheduling or attending a pilot screening in the New York City area or are a network representative and interested in viewing the program, please contact email@example.com. Support by following on Twitter @VettedTV .
Author disclaimer: Yeah, I date the writer and director of the show referenced in this article. But really, it’s not just girlfriend good, it’s actually good.