A Family at War chronicles one family's struggle to deal with their son's death in Iraq and the continuing political fallout from the war. Viewers get to know the young man who died, Jeff Kaylor, through old home movies and the memories of his mother, Roxanne, his father, Mike, and his widow and fellow soldier, Jenna Cosby Kaylor. Although they all share a devastating sense of loss, the war rages at the kitchen table because they each feel differently about the conflict that claimed Jeff's life on April 7, 2003.
For Roxanne, the loss of her son leads to rage as she becomes more and more convinced that the war that claimed Jeff was unnecessary and unjust. A Family at War captures Roxanne's growing frustration and her increasing participation in organized resistance against the war with other grieving military families who share her views. By contrast, Jeff's father, Mike, who has had a long career in the military, is proud of his son and believes in the mission. Although Jeff's death hurts him deeply, Mike makes it clear that he understands that death in war is the price some must pay for accepting life as a soldier. Like her father-in-law, and as a member of the military, young widow Jenna accepts that her husband's sacrifice was for a greater cause. Over time, however, the thought of her unrealized life becomes unbearable, and she eventually decides to leave the military.