|Wednesday, May 17th, 2006
Baghdad ER: Documentary On US Military Hospital in Iraq Gets Cold Reception From Army
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A new documentary film on the emergency room of a US military hospital in Iraq is being met with resistance by the US Army. The film "Baghdad ER", which airs Sunday on HBO, chronicles life in the emergency room of the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad’s Green Zone during a two-month period last year. The Army surgeon general has warned military-personnel it could cause post-traumatic stress disorder, while the Secretary of the Army asked HBO to delete some footage from the final cut. We play excerpts of the film, and speak to the film’s directors, as well as a military doctor depicted in the film, and a mother of a soldier whose death is chronicled on screen. [includes rush transcript]
The Army surgeon general has issued an unusual warning about an upcoming film that airs this Sunday on HBO. In a memo to military personnel, Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley writes that watching the documentary could result in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as flashbacks or nightmares. The film "Baghdad ER" chronicles life in the emergency room of the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad’s Green Zone during a two-month period last year. It examines the daily lives of doctors, nurses, chaplains and soldiers who work at one of the busiest hospitals in Iraq.
"Baghdad ER" was screened on Monday night at the National Museum of American History and is scheduled to be shown at 22 military installations around the country. But it has already caused controversy because of it’s graphic footage of soldiers reeling from, and in some cases dying, from their war wounds. HBO screened the film in March for Senior Army officials including Undersecretary of the Army Pete Green. HBO’s executive Vice President Richard Pleper said the film received an enthusiastic response.
But then last week, the Army suddenly seemed to withdraw support for the film. HBO’s offer to co-sponsor a screening of the film this week at Fort Campbell, Kentucky where the 86th is based- was turned down by the Pentagon. And last week the Army suddenly declined to attend Monday’s screening.
In addition, none of the highest ranking officers or senior medical personnel attended the screening. After the screening, Shelia Nevins, President of HBO’s documentary unit, told the Washington Post, "Maybe people at the Pentagon feel the truth will discourage people from backing the war. The film certainly tells you what could happen in a war, but it’s also about the heroism, courage and dedication of our troops.”