The news regularly reports on the casualties of war sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan but nothing much is said of the soldiers that return from their tours of duty and the aftermath of mental illness many face.
Simone de Vries' Beer is Cheaper than Therapy sheds light on the mental health crisis that is currently taking place in America as members of the military return from war with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression often resulting in alcoholism and an increase in suicides.
The documentary focuses the spotlight on Fort Hood, located in Killeen, Texas (one of the largest military bases in America), where we learn the statistics are overwhelming: 19 confirmed suicides by soldiers at the base in 2010 with a total of 55 suicides from 2003 to 2009, while statistics show that over 7,000 Fort Hood soldiers are on antidepressants or antipsychotic medication.
A seemingly endless stream of traumatized young men lend their stories of depression, which are coupled with military wives that underscore the fact that their men have changed after going abroad. Shots from around the town of Killeen show pro-war posters that congratulate the troops, along with car dealerships offering big incentives to soldiers if they want to purchase a shiny new Chevrolet Camaro, which is cleverly, and ironically, juxtaposed with voiceovers recounting the horrors of the war experience.
The most telling interview comes from a local tattoo artist as she recounts the short-sighted enthusiasm most of the young men have as they come to her shop to have skulls, flames and Latin war-related phrases adorned to their bodies as they head off overseas, followed by a sense of grief that the men have upon their return.
Beer is Cheaper than Therapy is ostensibly a sad tale that highlights a very real problem that America is facing. Young men are shipped off to war and are given very little support from their government when they return to home soil. And while the U.S.A continues to assert itself globally, one has to question whether or not these men will ever stand a chance.