Most Americans do not understand the trauma and stress that a lot of war veterans come back home with. Those experiences will change a person drastically in so many different ways.
In Thank You For Your Service, it reflects the life and times of war veteran Adam Schumann in dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and adjusting back to civilian life.
The film stars Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Bealah Koale, Amy Schumer and Scott Haze.
LRM had an exclusive interview with Adam Schumann earlier this month to discuss Thank You For Your Service. We talked about his real life story, fictionalized parts in the movie, the pitch and his handling of PTSD today.
Thank You For Your Service will be playing nationwide in theaters this Friday.
Read our interview transcript below.
LRM: I’ve checked out your movie. It’s pretty awesome. I loved it. How does it feel that your story is being told on the big silver screen? It’s not in a book, but on a big screen.
Adam Schumann: At first, I felt a little guilty. It’s my story. There are so many stories that can come out of this conflict. I always considered myself as an average soldier. I did my job. And that’s it. I never wanted recognition for it. It’s just a job. I loved it.
To see it on the screen now and to see people embracing it, it feels great. I’m honored to be the representative of the two or three million veterans who had served in this conflict. It had come full circle.
LRM: How did they approached you to tell you that they are going to make a movie?
Adam Schumann: David Finkel wrote the books called Thank You For Your Service and the one before called The Good Soldiers. [Finkel and I] always stayed in contact. We’re really good friends now. I consider him as one of my best friends. He’s an amazing guy.
He texted me one day with “Guess what?” What? He said, “They want to make a movie out of the book.” Whatever. He responded, “No, I’m serious. Let me call you.” So he did call me. We discussed it and he was even taken back on the idea. He was a bit shocked about it. How can they make this into a movie? It’s a traumatic story. It’s sad.
He told me a Jason Hall will be contacting and gave me a little info. The next day, I got a call from Jason. I didn’t know on who it was so I let it go to voicemail. I called him back and he said, “Hey. We’re going to make a movie. I’ve read the book and I’m reaching out.” So that’s how it started.
I didn’t believe it at first. I said to myself, “Okay, I’ll play that game.” I answered these questions. The more serious I felt they were—they really sunk their teeth into it, owned it and took the responsibility that they didn’t have too. The more I felt it—the more comfortable I was. Finally, I was able to dump it all out on them. What you see is what you get. They did an amazing job.
LRM: Rather than asking you on what was real in this film—I’m going to ask you is what was fictionalized?
Adam Schumann: The dog. It was a metaphor for a warrior fighting and getting hurt to only be cast aside. You’re just not useful anymore. That was fictionalized.
And also giving up the space to Solo to go to the treatment facility. I would’ve done that. Solo and I only known each other through combat and passing at the VA. I actually went to the treatment center. I’ve spent nine months at the residential treatment facility for TBI (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Everything else did happen. Everything in that movie is a real story except for that dog thing.
LRM: So there is no dog in real life? [Laughs]
Adam Schumann: I have a dog since 2005. She’s twelve now. She’s a great dog.
Everything else is as real as it gets. It all happened to someone, to someone I know or to me. The stories are folded together and meshed to be woven in a way to be portrayed on film versus a book.
LRM: How is your life now? The movie is on a depressing note. But, I’m assuming that the treatment works.
Adam Schumann: Yeah. It’s really great. It’s well. It’s ten years ago. Now I can look at the movie to see how far I’ve come from ten years ago. Every day is a learning experience. I try to improve on something every day. Some days are worse than others. Overall, it’s on the up and up. It’s just getting better.
LRM: Are there still lingering effects?
Adam Schumann: Absolutely. On anniversary days, it is September 29. It is the day that James Doster was killed. So when that day comes around every year, it sucks. For every year, it’s a little less painful. You still think about it. It’s not like it goes away. You just learn to honor and remember them.
LRM: How does your therapy asks you to treat that? Particularly on the anniversary date?
Adam Schumann: To not allow yourself to get messed up. Don’t use it as an excuse to give up. I can be messed today, because it’s the anniversary day. No! It’s just another day. Remember it. Honor it. Do whatever you would’ve done before and the day after.
LRM: That’s some great advice.
Adam Schumann: Yes.
LRM: What was your reaction when you heard Miles Teller was going to play you? He’s not an unknown actor. He’s a well-known actor in this business. What was your initial reaction?
Adam Schumann: Actually, I didn’t really [have a strong reaction]. I’ve heard his name. The only thing I’ve seen him in was 21 & Over.
After I got back from Iraq in 2007, I quit watching TV and movies. I really departed myself from entertainment stuff. I haven’t seen him in much. Jason told me about him. I did my research. I was honored. I said, “If this is who they want to play me—I’m sure he’s going to do an amazing job.” The more I got to know him, the more I was honored to have him play me.
LRM: How do you grade his performance?
Adam Schumann: Oof! Powerful. As real as it gets. Some parts in the movie, it’s like looking at a mirror. Not physically looking into a mirror, but looking into myself by seeing those emotions. He’s a master of his craft. Truly amazing.
LRM: When you finally watched the movie on the big screen, was it difficult to watch your life being recreated?
Adam Schumann: Nope! Not at all. I always try to take a neutral standpoint and let them do their work. It’s their movie. It’s my story. But, it’s their version of my story. It’s like David’s version of my life. He told that story. So the story with the book and movie—everything will not relay the way it supposed to—so I just step back and let them do their thing.
If something really looks off, then I’ll tell them. That doesn’t look right. Jason was very opened and told me from the get-go that “if something doesn’t look right—just tell me.” Everybody has this open communication. Ideas are working and everything mixed together really well.
LRM: So the other character who are friends in the film—you only knew them in real life by passing?
Adam Schumann: Well, Amanda [Doster] and I were pretty close after I got back from Iraq. Her husband was a really good friend of mine who got killed. I spent a lot of time with her after I came home.
Aieti Tausolo…..we served together and we worked together in Iraq. We knew each other. We didn’t share beers and stuff all the time. We were colleagues. Aieti and I ran to into each other a few times at the VA. He would have his appointment and we would chat a lot. Our relationship wasn’t as daily as shown in the movie. It’s more of every now and then. Our stories do cross paths every day, we were both going through the same thing. For us physically, it was just in passing.
As for Emory, I’ve always spoken with [Adam] Emory. We’ve always tried to talk on the phone and attempt to hang out. I got to hang out on set with him. It was great. He even came up and visited me in 2010, which was three years after he got shot. I took him out fishing and we hung out.
LRM: So how much time did you spent on the set? How was your experience on the production?
Adam Schumann: It was great. I think I spent about four weeks total on set during the production.
LRM: Was there anything that Jason had to change per your advice?
Adam Schumann: Not in his story per se. Some physical stuff. I’ll be on set and notices someone’s uniform looks [not proper], I would be like, “Jason, that’s messed up.” He tells me to fix it. I just run over to that uniform to fix it and make it right. In the veteran community, we’re very critical of each other. They would’ve tore this [movie] apart if something stuck out. I made it a point that if anything stuck out to me that I would tell Jason about it. It’s really chiseling away to make this Statue of David.
LRM: Well, I’m glad you were on set. Non-veterans like us probably couldn’t even tell from the tiny discrepancies.
Adam Schumann: It’s as real as it gets. Nothing in the movie really jumps out as being inaccurate, false, wrong, goofy or anything. It’s been the generous consensus across with the other vets who had seen it. It’s good to hear. It’s the only people I care to please. I want them to know that it’s the real deal and not a Hollywood thrown together war movie.
LRM: To wrap it up, who do you recommend to watch this type of movie?
Adam Schumann: Oh, wow. Everybody. From the age of sixteen and up to hundred and twenty. This movie is about life. It’s about hope. It’s also about trauma. It’s learning to live with that. It’s about learning to help each other. There are beautiful moments that a lot of us taken for granted.
It’s a movie about life. Everybody should see it. It’s a veteran movie. I know vets will see it. But, I want everybody to go see it. They’re going to learn or see a reflection of themselves in one of these characters.
LRM: Great answer. Thank you very much.
Adam Schumann: Thank you.
Thank You For Your Service opens in theaters nationwide this Friday.
Source: LRM Exclusive