Not often can people say their stories have received the Hollywood treatment, but for former U.S. Army Chaplain Darren Turner, that’s exactly what’s happened.
The decorated Iraq War veteran and his family are the subjects of the forthcoming movie, “Indivisible,” which chronicles Turner’s journey home from war, when he was forced to combat the emotional hardships threatening his marriage.
“It still is — and probably always will be — weird,” Turner told Faithwire, explaining how “surreal” it is to see his life’s experiences recreated on the silver screen.
What’s his story?
Turner and his wife, Heather, had been married for about three years and were confident they wanted to go into ministry, but they just didn’t know where they were supposed to serve. Not long after they started looking at their options, Heather reconnected with an old college friend who’d married an Army chaplain.
It didn’t take long for Turner to get on board with the idea of military ministry. In fact, both he and his wife were “really attracted” to the chaplaincy.
Then the whirlwind began. Three months after his first day on active duty, Turner was deployed for 15 months. While he was pouring into soldiers as their world literally crashed down around them, his own life — his marriage and his family — was crumbling.
When he returned to the U.S., Turner was facing a collapsed world and he no longer knew how to use the tools necessary to rebuild what had broken in his absence, nor was he strong enough to try.
— Indivisible (@indivisiblemov) October 17, 2018
Just like muscles ache after an intense workout, Turner’s understanding of normalcy had crashed along with his marriage, and after such a harrowing tour overseas, his mind ached as he struggled to adapt to a life that was once routine but within the span of just one year had become so foreign.
“When I came back, I was angry, I was frustrated. We had a tough deployment, we lost a lot of guys. I did not handle that grief well,” Turner said. “So when I got back, my wife and children wanted all of me — they wanted all my attention — and I kind of wanted to run away from being needed.”
He continued, “In a weird way, I almost wanted to go back and be with my guys and be in that setting again, because it became — that became familiar to us.”
Turner said it was, in a way, easier when he was in a combat zone, because at least there, he felt understood. There was no reason for explanation and there was no time for questioning. Everyone just knew.
Just a handful of months after he returned to the country, Turner and his wife separated. Desperate to heal his hurting marriage and restore the normalcy he once knew and cherished, Turner quit the Army in 2009.
Turner said he and his wife “didn’t recover alone,” remembering the friends and the “multitude of counselors” who spoke truth into their fractured and fragile situation, “even when we didn’t want to hear it.”
“He had to break my heart of my selfishness, and Heather’s as well of her own unrealistic expectations of what our homecoming was going to look like,” he said, noting the beginning of healing came when they began “confessing to one another, forgiving one another” for their missteps and mistakes. “We have to be honest. We can’t keep blaming others for our issues.”
How did it become a movie?
David Evans, director for “Indivisible,” came across the Turners’ story a few years ago, when he was working on developing a fictional script about a chaplain.
During his research, Evans stumbled across a few CNN stories about Turner and his experience overseas and the tumultuous marriage he fought to save when he returned home.
“It was what they went through in their marriage that really spoke to me,” Evans said, noting the “miracles that happened in their relationship and how their relationship was restored.”
Evans and his wife had a “great bond” with the Turners when they first met and over the six-year journey making the film. He wanted to movie to be as authentic as possible to the military experience, so in addition to his close connection with the Turners, Evans also consulted a series of experts and military personnel.
The director said “so many” of the military families who have screen “Indivisible” have told him “how real it feels, and that was our goal.”
“We wanted to make it a tribute to them,” Evans said. “To let people who come and watch the film, who aren’t connected to the military in any way, which is 99 percent of the population, help them to have insights into what our troops are dealing with on a daily basis — especially when they’re deployed — and not to forget about the moms and dads who are back home caring for their families.”
“Indivisible” premieres in theaters nationwide Friday, Oct. 26.