The How & Why of the Military Family: A Review of the Movie “Indivisible”

I have a rule of thumb that I do not watch war-related movies while my husband is deployed. Therefore, when I was offered an advanced screening by Carmel Communications of the movie Indivisible, with the promise of an honest review as the premier date loomed, I was grateful my husband is not deployed. It is the first adult-movie my husband and I have watched together since prior to our youngest’s birth six months ago.

Indivisible is based on a true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner, his fifteen-month deployment to Iraq in the spring of 2007, and the struggle he faces as a chaplain in charge of over one thousand troops. The movie also follows the story of his wife, Heather, as she stays home, caring for their small children while simultaneously tending for the wives and family members who remain home to keep the fires burning. The movie also delves into the weightier issues of readjustment, and the difficulty reintegration home from the war zone takes when a soldier battles an invisible wound such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sometimes we watch movies that hit just a little too close to home – movies that, through the content material and acting, strike the balance of being powerful, yet not over the top. There are many movies out there that have portrayed war in all its gritty reality, but Indivisible stands apart as one of the very few which portrays the emotional reality of war for both the soldiers and their families.

As I watched the scenes, and at times wrestled with emotions, I said a prayer of thanksgiving that not only is my husband not deployed, but that I have the rule of not watching war movies while he is deployed. Frankly, I would not have been able to make it through the first twenty minutes if he were not sitting with me.

Yet, my husband phrased it best when he described Indivisible as, “Intensely compelling.” My final assessment of the movie is that it is one which every civilian should watch at least once! I would also advise that military families will find the entire story resonating with them, but provide some words of caution about this film toward the end of this review.

While I was continuously distracted at the military installation being referred to as “base,” instead of “post,” the story line for Indivisible was gripping, the acting was impeccable, the soundtrack was strong, the script was poignant, and the message was inspirational.

It was difficult to watch…

…It was powerful…

…It was authentic.

It was real.

As an Army wife, too often, I have heard from well-meaning individuals, “I don’t know how you do it.” I have learned throughout the years of marriage that these people are usually saying this as a filler… simply because they don’t know what to say. And, as I have grown in my marriage and faith, I have learned to reply the truth, “I ‘do’ this because I fell in love with a soldier, and simply through the grace of God.”

Indivisible radiates that truth.

Even though my husband returned from his latest deployment almost four years ago, as I watched Indivisible, the emotions of deployments returned. The dread of the doorbell ringing, the tense phone calls because one spouse is uncertain of what to say to the other, the crisis each spouse handles on their own with their partner on the other end of the world… and the finality of realizing that there is more outside of our control which must be handed over to God.

Indivisible shares insight not just into Chaplain Turner’s family, but highlights three other amazing families. It follows the highs and lows of deployments. It displays the cohesiveness and camaraderie that brothers- and sisters-in-arms form through traumatic experiences. It showcases the strength of the families left behind to pray and continue living, not knowing when we will hear from our loved one.

Throughout the movie, viewers are given insight into the growth which can come about from war, as well as the deterioration which can be wrought from war. While war is tragic, and there are visible wounds which are created for some individuals, this movie is a reminder that not all wounds are visible. Indivisible reminds viewers that it takes courage, strength, openness, dedication, and time to heal both visible and invisible wounds.

Early in the movie, Chaplain Turner’s character reminds his Chaplain’s Assistant, “Keep the family together, keep the soldiers together.” And, this movie highlights the importance of that mantra. From the timed phone calls home, to the morale-welfare activities such as the female soldier reading a bedtime story to her son while being recorded, Indivisible tackles the extent to which those deployed will go to let their families know they care.

And, on the flip side, it handles how the families left behind band together to support not just each other, but to play their part to show their loved ones they are not forgotten – from blogs being established to track activities, to organizing and sending care packages, to sending pictures of growing families while their loved one serves the country.

Indivisible gives gripping insight into the reality of many military marriages. Early on in our marriage, my husband and I realized we cannot compare each other’s contribution to the family unit. I will never be able to fully understand the role he plays as a deployed Servicemember, and he will never be able to fully understand the role I play as I stay behind. Rather than comparing who has it worse, or who sacrifices more, as a team, we acknowledge the struggles we both face. During a discussion once, I pointed out to my husband, comparing his contribution to our family unit versus my contribution is similar to comparing apples to oranges. We are both working for success in our family, but the branches we climb are sometimes different. As I watched the couples in this movie, I vividly recalled our realization made so many years ago

Yet, at the root of our family, much like Chaplain Turner’s, is God. At times, we must hand our worries, our fears, our anxieties, and our struggles over to Him. The Catholic Church is quick to remind couples that marriage is a covenant, not just between two people, but a vow which involves a third – upon our vows, we are inviting God into our sacred union. And, Indivisible highlights the importance of surrendering unto Him when the individual, and by extension, the family hit rock bottom.

Perhaps for the first time ever, as I watched Indivisible, I decided I had found a movie which encapsulates the essence of military life, veteran’s issues, and the reason why so many families choose to, and continue to, serve despite the difficulties they face.

Simply put and summed up by the movie, we serve because we are called. We aren’t called necessarily by Uncle Sam, but rather, we are called by a Higher Power. And, Indivisible explores all the facets of what it means to be a military family in today’s military.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a normal reaction to an abnormal event such as war. And, Indivisible does not shy from addressing this internally festering wound. Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur whenever there is even a perceived threat of trauma, and as such, can taint the lives of individuals stemming from war, childhood abuse and neglect, sexual assault, or losing the life of someone close. Many of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are identified in this film, and the effect on family life are highlighted in the readjustment and reintegration scenes. These scenes portray symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, explosive anger, hyperarousal/hypervigilence and severe withdrawal from others. This movie also showcases how post-traumatic stress disorder can wound not just the psyche, but also the soul and faith of the person suffering. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a real condition, and without treatment, can have significant impact on not just individuals and families, but also society at large.  

Upon reflection and digestion of this movie, the greatest critique I must write is that not every soldier and family deals with post-traumatic stress disorder. Every family will have a reintegration period when they reunify – it takes all Servicemembers and their families a hot minute to settle into the new normal when one spouse, who had been gone for a while, returns home to the family. Roles have to be readjusted, expectations have to be reassessed, and family members have to get reacquainted. However, many families are able to do that without the difficulty of experiencing major obstacles like the loss of limbs… or, without the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ultimately, in a two hour time span, Indivisible explains the answer of “how I do this,” as an Army wife. It explains “how” we, as an Army family endure the separations. And, perhaps most importantly, it explains “why.”

In a nutshell, Indivisible shares the reason most military families continue to endure this lifestyle. 

Because our service is more than a lifestyle. 

It is a calling. 

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10 thoughts on “The How & Why of the Military Family: A Review of the Movie “Indivisible”

    1. It may be a little difficult to watch at times, but definitely delves into the soldier and family’s perspectives!

    1. I hope it resonates as strongly with you, as it did with me! You’ll have to come back and share your thoughts when you do… Thank you for stopping in!

    1. I think so! I really think any adult would benefit from knowing a little more of the challenges the average military family faces – while also explaining why so many families are reliant on their faith!

  1. Sounds like just the movie for me when I’m having a pity party for myself. Sometimes, when life is hard, we need to tune into other lives and bring the lessons we learn back into ours. Hope to watch this movie. Thank you.

    1. I have learned a long time ago to not compare… we all have life difficult in our own ways! But, I would agree that it is always good to reflect on ways others may have it harder. For me, during the lengthiness of deployments, at the end of the day, I know (barring anything happening) my supporter will be coming home, or I have someone to vent to, or appreciate the work I am doing. But, single parents don’t have that ability to plan on decompressing, or don’t have that voice on the other end, cheering them on.

      I hope you enjoy this movie! You’ll have to let me know what you think, when you do!

      1. But, single parents don’t have that ability to plan on decompressing, or don’t have that voice on the other end, cheering them on.

        That was beautifully put, Anni. Sometimes I get too wound up in my own life that I forget to shine God’s Light – as God wants me to. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve never actually prayed for single parents. Thank you for bringing that to me. I will offer up all of my today for them and see where God leads me from there. God bless you, Anni.

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