Veterans that have served in any branch of the military deserve their country’s highest regard and appreciation. They give up their lives and loved ones to fight for strangers’ freedom and the protection of whichever nation they serve. One of the best ways to honor the sacrifices made by these real-life superheroes is to learn about and appreciate the brutal and often terrible realities veterans face during and after their service. These five documentaries do an excellent job of telling the true story of life as a veteran.

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (2013)

This documentary examines the United States’ only emergency hotline for veterans. They respond to calls from veterans who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and even those who reach out in their final moments. It details the importance of understanding and adequately treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental illnesses veterans struggle with.

Stray Dog (2014)

The life of Vietnam War veteran Ron “Stray Dog” Hall is detailed in this documentary. He owns a trailer park in Missouri and spends his time trying to recall memories of wars past and trying to ease the burden of fellow veterans with harrowing stories to tell.

Lionness (2008)

This documentary tells the story of the first American program in history to send females into direct combat on the ground during Iraq’s invasion in 2003. It outlines the additional difficulties female veterans endured during their service as well as the likelihood of developing a mental illness such as PTSD after their return home.

The Good Soldier (2009)

In this documentary, viewers get a glimpse into the lives of five different soldiers who fought during five different eras of war, including the Vietnam, Gulf, and Iraq wars, along with WW2. It also dives into the five men’s attitudes towards war itself and how their service changed their perspective.

Most Honorable Son (2007)

This last documentary is about a Japanese-American soldier from Nebraska named Ben Kuroki, who became the only Japanese-American to serve in the United States Air Force during WW2. He chose to enlist after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor when he was only twenty-three years old. The film highlights Kuroki’s commitment and courage to serve a country whose citizens mostly despised him because of his race and anti-Japanese propaganda during the second world war.

The most valuable way to honor veterans who gave their lives is to remember and appreciate the sacrifices they made, the experiences they were forced to go through, the difficulties they faced, and the overall strength, bravery, and courage they have inside.