Synopsis by Mark Deming
It's been estimated that nearly a quarter of the 1,200,000 homeless people in America are military veterans who've fallen through the cracks of society with little help from the Veterans Administration. Many expect that veterans of the war in Iraq will soon be joining other former soldiers from Vietnam and the Persian Gulf on the streets as they return from active duty, and When I Came Home is a documentary on homeless vets which focuses on one soldier from the Iraq war who has already become caught in the cycle of homelessness. Herold Noel says he was a "hustler" when he joined the military in 2003 and was soon assigned to Iraq. Noel returned home to New York City with a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and since then he has been unable to work. Noel's discharge status prevented him from receiving public assistance, and two years after coming home, he was living in his car, while his wife moved in with her sister, accompanied by their child. It was only after Noel's story received media attention through a story in the New York Post that he began to receive the help he needed, while thousands of other veterans are still living on the streets of Manhattan. Directed by Dan Lohaus, When I Came Home also features interviews with other veterans on the issues facing returning soldiers, as well as activist Paul Rieckhoff and Public Enemy founder Chuck D.