Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m.
“American Veteran” is a four-part documentary series tracing the veteran experience across the arc of American history and exploring the present-day divide between civilian and veteran communities. From the citizen-soldiers returning from the Revolution to today’s warrior class, it is a deeply moving story, illuminating the veteran experience and drawing civilian viewers into an unfamiliar culture.
Each episode of “American Veteran” is hosted by a veteran: former Marine and TV host Drew Carey; Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient; Wes Studi, a Vietnam War veteran (National Guard) and Native American (Cherokee) activist; and J. R. Martinez, an Army veteran, actor and motivational speaker.
The production team, led by Insignia Films, interviewed a diverse group of nearly 50 veterans — young and old, enlisted and officers, men and women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and those whose service left them with physical disabilities or PTSD. In each episode, veterans reflect on and share their personal experiences in the military, from boot camp to service in war and peacetime to return to civilian life.
Episode 1: “The Crossing” – Tuesday, October 26
As recruits take the oath to serve, they leave the civilian world to become soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen or women and their transformation begins. “There is a very stark line between before boot camp and after boot camp,” one veteran recalls. Hosted by Marine veteran Drew Carey.
Episode 2: “The Mission” – Tuesday, November 2
Military life shapes servicemen and women in profound, unexpected ways. Veterans’ stories showcase the raw impact of these experiences, including a young Coast Guard recruit who helped ferry soldiers to fight and die on D-Day, a pilot based in Nevada who remotely guided bomber drones over Afghanistan, and a young Marine who rose to become the first Latina general. Hosted by Senator Tammy Duckworth.
Episode 3: “The Return” – Tuesday, November 9
Hollywood war stories seem to end with the hero’s triumphant return, but in reality, the road back to civilian life is often less certain. For some, there were ticker-tape parades; for others, protests, anger and silence. Some veterans recall the confidence they brought home, while others remember thinking, “What am I going to do now?” Hosted by Wes Studi.
Episode 4: “The Reckoning” – Tuesday, November 16
“Those who went into the service and those who did not, we are two different realities,” observes a veteran. But there are differences from veteran to veteran. Some appreciate “Thank you for your service;” others wonder if the thanks are just “bumper sticker deep.” Veterans reflecting on their service ask how we—veterans and civilians together—can move America forward. Hosted by J. R. Martinez.