Last night, I attended the World Premiere of the film “Return,” a documentary about a Vietnam veteran who returns to Vietnam for the first time since the war. I had the pleasure of speaking with the Director on The Chris and Ashley Show last week, and you can read more of our interview here.  

Jim Markel Sr traveled to Vietnam as a way to process PTSD and to try to communicate with his son about his complicated past. The documentary did a fantastic job of depicting the emotional journey of Jim Markel Sr and his son Jim Markel Jr as well as giving historical context to the events of the war and the way it affected the people involved.  

The film brought out a range of emotions in the audience, too. There was audible laughter and visible tears. We as an audience went on a journey with the Markels. After the film, the Director, Producer, and the Markels answered audience questions, all of which were humble yet inquisitive. But it was the last question that truly touched every heart in the room.  

Credit: Ashley, Townsquare Media
Credit: Ashley, Townsquare Media
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I don’t know how the moderator knew to call on the woman, she probably didn’t, but it couldn’t have been a better statement to end the evening on. The woman started by saying, “Thank you.”  

She went on to explain that her own father, similar to Jim Markel Sr, was from Pennsylvania and now lived in Montana. He too, was a Green Beret and he too fought in the Vietnam war. Her father had been injured in the war, and to this day, has never spoken about the experience.  

“Thank you for your film,” she said in a quivering voice, “because now I have an idea of what he went through and I think I’ll be able to talk about it with him for the first time.”  

Whether any of us were related to a veteran or were a veteran, we all felt that woman’s catharsis.  

Jim Markel Sr replied to the woman and said, “I want to talk to you after this.” It felt like a small, happy ending.  

You can stream it this week here, but keep an eye out for its release on DVD.  

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