The Jury award-winning documentary of the SXSW festival, Where Soldiers Come From, provides a look into who the soldiers are that protect our social liberties. Director Heather Courtney dives head first into trying to assess the true affects that the War on Terror has had on the American people.

Courtney details the journey of three friends from Michigan: Dominic Fredianelli, the creative and artistic leader of the group; Cole Smith, the comedic and lighthearted gun-toting philosopher; and Matt “Bodi” Beaudoin, the hardcore conservative of the group. Courtney steps back and lets the camera roll as we see the soldiers journey, from friends looking to just enlist in the National Guard as a way to earn the quick $20,000 signing bonus, free college tuition and to be all they can be.

The trio feels this can just simply be something to do every month. Once they start National Guard troop training, they quickly change from out of shape partiers to somewhat trained soldiers. This transition is one of the great things about Where Soldiers Come From. We get to see the reality that comes with their growing up in such a stressful wartime situation.

The group’s thoughts of just being weekend warriors takes a turn for the worst as the friends are deployed and sent to Afghanistan, thrust in the middle of war sweeping for roadside bombs and investigating hostile insurgents. After repeated bombings and attacks on their convoys, the three friends are no longer carefree but have become trained warriors. Just as the group is becoming engrained in the military lifestyle, they return home with the feeling of now what?

The trio falls back into normalcy at home, and this was the best part of the film, as you get to see how tough it is being a soldier in combat and then coming back home to simple everyday life. This is what I saw as the biggest problem with being a soldier: It is a career that you just can’t turn off.

Where Soldiers Come From is told over a four-year time-span in which the friends truly grow up and become adults. As the film progresses, we see that with growing up comes responsibility and fear of many things, including failure, lack of economic prosperity and feeling no purpose in life.

There are many fears that plague most young Americans, but in Courtney’s documentary we see these fears are only magnified when you have been fighting to stay alive in war. Where Soldiers Come From doesn’t deal with an original concept of friends going to fight in war, but it does a persuasive job examining their specific journey, which viewers will enjoy.

Where Soldiers Come From releases in select theaters Oct. 7.