It’s not always easy to understand the way another person might feel. This can be especially true when talking about military veterans. Without actually going and experiencing military life, and will you ever truly understand how a veteran feels? While it’s not exactly the same, one great way is by watching movies. Movies help us see things through someone else’s eyes, and the right movie can help a person feel intense, raw emotions on a level almost as much as the real thing. Many movies exist that depict both military life and life after leaving it. Here are a few great movies about veterans and their experiences.

The Men (1950)

Marlon Brando plays Ken, a veteran who lost the use of his legs during WWII. Ken is back home now, but spends his time at a hospital, unwilling to make an effort to respond to his treatment due to his own self-pity. The only thing that seems to make Ken want to get out of bed each day is the encouragement he receives from his fiance and doctor each day, especially when being in a hospital full of other discouraged veterans. This movie rings true even to this day, as amputee veterans come back from war even to this day, and it’s never something that’s easy to recover from. Regardless, it’s important to remember that things can always get better.

Born On The Fourth Of July (1989)

This movie focuses on a veteran played by Tom Cruise who is returning home from the Vietnam War with paralysis. Cruise’s character Ron is full of optimism about getting better, but as time continues Ron becomes more and more jaded about his injury and the war that caused it. This movie does a great job of showing the psychological trauma that the Vietnam War seemed to cause many of its soldiers, whether they were drafted or signed themselves up to fight.

In The Valley Of Elah (2007)

Another movie about a Vietnam veteran, Tommy Lee Jones plays a retired Army investigator whose son, a veteran who recently returned from Iraq, goes missing. Hank (Lee’s character) and a local police detective soon find out that his son wound up dead after a night out with members of his platoon, and foul play is suspected. This movie covers many of the real-life issues that many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have come to face – alcohol abuse, violence, and failure to cope, all of which can stem from untreated or unrecognized PTSD.