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To Heal a Nation (1988)

M | | Drama | TV Movie 29 May 1988
The true story of Jan Scruggs, an embittered Vietnam veteran who returns from the war a broken man. However, with the help of his loving wife Becky, he begins to find a new life for himself... See full summary »


Michael Pressman


Jan Scruggs (book), Joel Swerdlow (book) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Eric Roberts ... Jan Scruggs
Glynnis O'Connor ... Becky Scruggs
Marshall Colt ... Jack Wheeler
Scott Paulin ... Bob Doubek
Lee Purcell ... Sandie
Brock Peters ... Paul Turner
Gloria Carlin Gloria Carlin ... Monica
Jordan Charney ... Spreiregen
Tamlyn Tomita ... Maya Ying Lin
Laurence Luckinbill ... Senator Bob Mathias
Linden Chiles ... Senator John Warner
James F. Kelly James F. Kelly ... Webb
Eloy Casados
Tom Everett ... Thompson
Gary Hershberger


The true story of Jan Scruggs, an embittered Vietnam veteran who returns from the war a broken man. However, with the help of his loving wife Becky, he begins to find a new life for himself, and a personal goal when he agrees to begin a determined campaign to raise funds for a veteran's memorial. Written by Jonathan Broxton <j.w.broxton@sheffield.ac.uk>

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M | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Although the role is credited as "Senator Bob Mathias," the character portrayed by Laurence Luckinbill was actually a Republican member of the US House of Representatives (also known as a Congressman) representing California for four terms, from January 3, 1967 to January 3, 1975, and never ran (nor was he appointed) for the office of either California State Senator or United States Senator from California (or any other state). The role should have been credited as either Congressman Bob Mathias or Representative Bob Mathias. See more »


Jan Scruggs: [waking up in a cold sweat] Da names, it's gotta have da names!
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References The Deer Hunter (1978) See more »


Where Did Our Love Go
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland
Performed by Diana Ross and The Supremes
Courtesy of Motown Records
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User Reviews

Extremely Heartwarming and it set out to do what it set out to do
16 November 2005 | by shannonphoenixSee all my reviews

Eric Roberts should have won the highest award their is for his part in this. I was 15 years old when my class visited Washington D.C. and they were just starting to build the memorial. I was too young to think about all that went into the making of it all. I remember the war, but very little and I remember all the broken men who came back and had the burden of surviving the aftermath, including my two uncles. When I saw this movie, I was en captured by the entire theme of it as I watched the bitterness of the vets complain about benefits, which is something I can relate to all too well to Jan's simple request of a simple memorial to the rallying of support to the people realizing that their anger was terrible misplaced in these young men to the final building to the actual opening. It was all very emotional for me.

I do not understand why it has not been shown again on Memorial Day or Veterans Day. I thought there were many tender moments in the film such as when Jan received the letter from the kid who sent him five dollars to have their father's name that inspired him to have ALL the names put on, to the winner of the contest to construct the memorial who just happened (as I remember to be) a young Asian girl who was adopted because of all of the orphans (I think.) And the scene where the engravers where engraving the names and the one engraver burst out into tears because it she came to her brothers name.

The final scenes were about when the memorial was open and the people came and when the white elderly lady came and the black vet asked her who she knew and she said her son and how he held her hand and helped her with the flowers she wanted to put there and there was no thought of race there, just humanity. I think one of my favorite parts was when the brother was there to find his brother's name only to see him there after 20 years to find out that he wasn't dead, but just lost for so many years.

This movie has remained in me for many years and I would love to see it again. I think that the title speaks for itself because this nation needed to heal from the Vietnam war and we needed to forgive ourselves and the young men and women who were over there and I think the movie did what it set out to do. I think it is very important to point out that this was done through the people and not through our government, which makes it all the more special.

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Release Date:

29 May 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cicatriz de guerra See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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