Parents' Guide to

To Be of Service

By Lynnette Nicholas, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Raw, honest documentary gets real about postwar trauma.

Movie NR 2019 88 minutes
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This moving documentary deals honestly with the ugliness of war while also highlighting the beauty of service dogs. To Be of Service shows us that veterans are the real superheroes. But these heroes aren't always treated with love and respect when they come home -- and life is never the same once you return. While stories and flashbacks of war are graphic, viewers can't help but respect the truths that are spoken, because this is the reality of what happened in their lives. This film shines a bright light on PTSD and encourages sharing empathy, patience, and unconditional support with our veterans. Viewers also learn a lot about service dogs. One subject says that the love that she has for her service dog comes second only to her love for her child.

Under Josh Aronson's direction, PTSD is given a human face -- and it's crystal clear that that face could be anyone's mother, father, brother, or sister. Having medical professionals like a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist speak about PTSD brings even more balance to the documentary's narrative. This film will appeal to many different audiences -- animal lovers, veterans and their families, medical professionals, and people from all walks of life -- because trauma is universal. To see people from various walks of life muster the courage to start over is inspirational and showcases tenacity. It may even encourage others who are losing hope as a result of their own PTSD or memories of war. While it delves deeply into uncomfortable realities like self-hatred, suicidal thoughts, and bipolar disorder, To Be of Service simultaneously elevates ideas about the power of love and "having an animal that loves you, just because you are 'you.'"

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