Synopsis: After losing his left arm to an IED while serving in Iraq, American soldier Ross Graydon spends six months rehabilitating at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. LEFT IN BAGHDAD follows Ross as he returns with his wife and daughter to their home in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. Ross resumes civilian life, never letting his new physical limitations affect his happy-go-lucky attitude. We see Ross outfitted with a new lifelike prosthetic arm, recounting his army experiences with his daughter’s school class and with fellow veterans, experiencing newfound victories like learning to maneuver a slice of pizza with a mechanical hand and optimistically planning for the future by enrolling in college. Both tragic and comic, LEFT IN BAGHDAD is the portrait of a family man meeting the challenges of his new life.
Directors, Producers, and Executive Producers: Peter Jordan and John Kane
Serious Jest: (Queue it) I deployed to Iraq, and later had the honor of working primarily with wounded Marines in my last billet as a Marine. I am also very familiar with Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This film did a great job of illuminating so many different aspects of a Wounded Warrior’s life after his injury, within a mere 11 minutes! If you’ve heard the term “Wounded Warriors,” but know very little about the subject, this is a great starter film for your education on the subject.
Combat Veterans often don’t like to discuss the events that they witnessed…at least not with just anybody. These moments are life-changing, very raw, could have involved the Veteran feeling powerless or weak, and very frequently will evoke raw emotion in the Veteran when recounting them. This video allows you to be an invisible person in the room, while a couple of Veterans recount how they lost their limbs. You will hear them express their fear at the time of the event, tremendous love and respect for their fellow Veterans that did not survive the event, and even survivor’s guilt in the form of eschewing being labeled a “hero.”
You will also see Graydon make a choice between preferring to hide his disability through a lifelike prosthetic, or openly carrying a functional prosthetic by opting for a set of mechanical metal hooks equipped with blue-tooth. The visit to Graydon’s daughter’s class illustrates a great deal about his comfort level in talking about his disability, children’s reaction to a Wounded Veteran, and even the functionality of prosthetics. If you’re impressed by the blue-tooth arm, you would be amazed by some of the other advanced technology that our Nation’s military and Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals have developed, and are still developing, in injury rehabilitation. We are definitely no longer in an era where losing a limb would mean spending the rest of one’s life in a wheelchair, or wielding a peg for an arm or leg, and being a pitiful outcast, like so many movies have portrayed our Vietnam Veterans who lost a limb (i.e., Born on the Fourth of July, Forrest Gump‘s Lieutenant Dan). Some Veterans are actually running faster after losing their leg. Others, like burn victim Marine J.R. Martinez, are enjoying celebrity success that others dream of.
This film is not all about Graydon’s success, though. You hear him express his feeling that he must end his military career (although it’s more of a choice; amputees can and do continue their military service, in many cases), as well as his fear of going back to college as a one-armed man in his 30s, trying to start a second career. You also see him get frustrated with his new limitations and lose his temper with his wife. You see his wife and friend try to support him, while unsure of how they should act, and trying their best to be understanding. In particular, Mrs. Graydon is obviously trying her best to be supportive, but clearly finds herself in strange waters, relying on love and patience to navigate her family back to some sort of normalcy…especially upon leaving the “safety” of Walter Reed to return to their hometown, where most people have very little understanding of their situation. It is important to note that the families of Wounded Warriors also often include some of the most courageous people you’ll ever meet.