A Real Life Tragedy Of American Soldier in American Sniper

Categories: American Sniper

"There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful thananything that bleeds. Don 't wait until you break. - Laurell Hamilton" This is oftentimes the sentiment felt by soldiers who have served in active duty and have been witnesses to tragedies that leave them emotionally scarred. The Clint Eastwood directed film, American Sniper is amovie that features the real life tragedy of American soldier, Chris Kyle, who served in theUnited States military as a Navy Seal, which is an elite group (Kenny, 2014 and Treitschke,2015).

His story is unique in that he himself suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), but as he worked to recover, he valiantly served again by helping fellow soldiers withPTSD ("Chris Kyle," 2013), and was senselessly gunned down on February 2, 2013 by another veteran, who was believed to also be suffering from PTSD ("Chris Kyle," 2013). Bradley Cooper who plays Chris Kyle has played in a variety of films ranging from comedy to drama and even military themed action films, such as the A-Team, but none quite as realistic as American Sniper(Kenny, 2014).

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The writers took the time to capture every detail of Chris Kyle 's life before and after serving in war in an effort to show the devastating effects PTSD has on our soldiers, their families and their return to life in society (Kenny, 2014 and Iribarren, 2004). It is a compelling story in that it shows the severity of PTSD in soldiers due to the magnitude of violence and gruesome things experienced in war (Chesnek, 2011).

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In particular, the movie depicted a gut-wrenching scene where Chris Kyle is seemingly forced to kill a child. The scene attempts to illustrate how soldiers have to make split second decisions to kill enemy combatants to protect one another, but in this instance that enemy is a child. These decisions are made on the battlefield as was seen in American Sniper but the weight of those decisions stay with the soldier long after they have left the battlefield (Hoge, 2014).

Some walked away from American Sniper wondering: Is he a vigilante or a hero?("American Sniper Is Almost Too Dumb," 2015) Chris Kyle had approximately 160 confirmed kills ("American Sniper," 2014). Some critics argued that he acted more like a hired assassin or ruthless contract killer than a hero protecting his country from terrorists ("American Sniper IsAlmost Too Dumb," 2015 and Walsh, 2015). Film critic Matt Taibbi even cautioned viewers saying we ought to be fearful of men like Chris Kyle rather than lifting him up as a hero("American Sniper Is Almost Too Dumb," 2015).

Yet some believe American Sniper to be no more than political propaganda using famed actors and well renowned directors to come up with an action packed film to convinceAmericans that the war on terror is both necessary and justified ("American Sniper Is AlmostToo Dumb," 2015, TK, 2015, Walsh, 2015 and Braun, 2015). Matt Taibbi gave an example ofthis type of propaganda used in an unpopular war with the television series called M.A.S.H.,which used comedy to sell Americans on the Vietnam War ("American Sniper Is Almost TooDumb," 2015). Taibbi wonders if America is really gullible enough to succumb to the same tactics of using Hollywood as a forum for bad politics ("American Sniper Is Almost Too Dumb,"2015).

There are those who would agree a political agenda is set before us in American Sniper,but not as an agenda to justify war. In fact, one can say they argue that American Sniper is not taking sides for or against war but is supporting our Veteran 's who go in to serve and come out being victimized by war. Many military Veterans suffer from PTSD (Iribarren, 2004). PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or seeing a terrifying event ("Diseases andConditions"). Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within three months of atraumatic event and can be both acute and chronic, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event ("Diseases and Conditions" and Zoellner, 2001). These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships ("Military Service-related PTSD," 2007). PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, or changes in emotional reactions("Diseases and Conditions" and Zoellner, 2001). Thus PTSD is not only experienced by soldiers- it can affect anyone who has experienced what they feel to be a traumatic event, which supports why families are so deeply affected (Zoellner, 2001). American Sniper seeks to bring awareness of PTSD as it is experienced by US soldiers. It presents to its viewers a condition that is experienced by many returning from war and shows in certain instances as with Chris Kyle, just how little is in place to ensure those experiencing PTSD are properly cared for or have adequate access to mental health treatment (Hoge, 2014). It causes the audience to consider the following: If we are unaware of the struggles of PTSD affecting our Veterans, how can we fix it?

American Sniper highlighted other key issues with regards to PTSD, one of which is the struggle for a soldier returning home postwar to become re-acclimated to the life he or she had before deployment (Hoge, 2014). As was seen in the movie, Chris Kyle had to endure his struggle with PTSD with little or no available help when he initially returned home (Hoge,2014). He had the unwavering support of his wife however she is portrayed as not being able to understand the difficulty her husband is having returning home after war. Chris Kyle found it difficult to talk about some of the gruesome things he had both witnessed and done while incombat - not uncommon in soldiers dealing with PTSD (Zoellner, 2001 and Treitschke, 2015).They showed how he struggled to reconnect with his wife and children to the point he was willing to go back to serve three more tours of duty feeling that was all he knew to do to cope(Treitschke, 2015). He had earned the nickname "Punisher" because of his reputation as a sniper on the battlefield, yet seemed to be unable to identify with himself as Chris Kyle ("Chris KyleAmerican Sniper"). He simply could not go back to his life as it was prior to his first deployment for war.

The real-life ending to the movie showed viewers the lack of mental health support for soldiers returning to life after war (Hoge, 2014). There is a scene where a soldier whose life was saved by the heroic efforts of Chris Kyle who physically carried him to safety where he thanks him for saving his life. Yet Chris Kyle seems so disconnected and unable to receive the heartfelt gratitude of a fellow soldier. How did one soldier seem to be able to cope with the travesties of war while the other still has a war raging on inside himself? (Zoellner, 2001) The difference is the help and mental health services received (Hoge, 2014). Chris Kyle returned from war withoutany major injuries but the other soldier was wounded in battle and lost his leg. Could it be thatbecause he was injured and hospitalized due to his injury that whatever counseling or therapy he needed was made available to him immediately, thus helping to cope better? While Chris Kyle was more or less left to find a way to cope on his own? The movie left you wondering, but only for a short while, that after some time Chris Kyle finally sought some help that would seem to be rather effective. Tragically he not only received help that was necessary to help him reclaim his as it was pre-war, he lost his life trying to help another soldier believed to be suffering from the effects of PTSD ("Chris Kyle," 2013). Chris Kyle was shot and killed, not on the battlefield,but by a fellow Veteran who perhaps had a mind that never left the battlefield.

It is not possible for soldiers to leave the war on the battlefield - not without help.Bringing awareness needs to take on a holistic approach; that is to say that it needs to encompassthe entire lifespan of a soldier, which is from the time he begins training, serves or is deployedfor war, up until he returns home and beyond. While a soldier is in training, they need to beprepared for what obstacles they will face post-war; waiting to provide mental health afterwardshas proven to be somewhat ineffective (Hoge, 2014). Families also need support or supportgroups so they know what to expect when their family member returns home (Hoge, 2014).Therapy services should be available to them as well, especially before, during and after thereturn of a loved one from war (Hoge, 2014 and Zoellner, 2001).Then mental health follow-up must be made part of a soldier 's transition back home (Hoge, 2014). This will help identify thosewho are not coping well and be given treatment that would be effective in helping them better manage PTSD (Hoge, 2014). In addition, community education is also necessary which will help employers, medical personnel and society at large to help our soldiers have the best chance athaving a healthy life after war and avoid tragedies like that of Chris Kyle, the American Sniper(Hoge, 2014 and "Military Service-Related PTSD," 2007). Truly this movie can be used as aeducational or training tool for soldiers, families and health care workers, especially since it was based on a real life experience. I believe it will help bring greater awareness of soldiers with PTSD and how we can better serve our Veterans of war.

Works cited

  1. Chesnek, D. S. (2011). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Impact on Soldiers. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 49(6), 42-48. doi:10.3928/02793695-20110502-02
  2. Hoge, C. W. (2014). Interventions for War-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Meeting Veterans Where They Are. JAMA Psychiatry, 71(3), 256-258. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.4545
  3. Iribarren, J. (2004). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Support, and Community Reintegration Among U.S. Veterans. Ph.D. dissertation, University of South Florida. Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/etd/1369/
  4. Kenny, G. (2014). "American Sniper" Brings Home the True Cost of War. Film Journal International, 117(1), 22-24.
  5. Military Service-Related PTSD." (2007). National Center for PTSD. Retrieved from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/related/military_ptsd.asp
  6. Diseases and Conditions: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)." Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967
  7. Treitschke, S. (2015). Film Review: American Sniper. Australasian Journal of American Studies, 34(2), 85-89.
  8. Chris Kyle." (2013). Newsmakers. Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from Gale OneFile: News database.
  9. TK. (2015). American Sniper: Propaganda, or Is It Just a Movie? Daily Kos. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/2/26/1366743/-American-Sniper-Propaganda-or-Is-It-Just-a-Movie
  10. Walsh, J. (2015). American Sniper Is Almost Too Dumb to Criticize. Salon. Retrieved from https://www.salon.com/2015/01/20/american_sniper_is_almost_too_dumb_to_criticize/
Updated: Feb 18, 2024
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A Real Life Tragedy Of American Soldier in American Sniper. (2024, Feb 18). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/a-real-life-tragedy-of-american-soldier-in-american-sniper-essay

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