I know what I want to say, but I’m having difficulty finding the right words.
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” – John Stuart-Mill
Tonight I watched “American Sniper.” Although it was hard for me to watch this movie without my husband, I think it would have been even harder to watch it with him.
Before leaving for the theater, I performed all my pre-combat checks and pre-combat inspections (basically, I made sure I had my popcorn money and box of tissues). I was ready for the emotional roller coaster I was about to embark when watching these type of movies. War movies always make me cry especially when they are closer to the reality I’ve grown accustomed to during the past 10 years. As most of you know we are a military family. Clay has served the last 20 years on Active Duty in the US Army. While he isn’t a Sniper, he is an expert marksman who doesn’t miss. He earned the title of expert many years ago and takes his profession seriously, naming his weapon girl’s names (must be a man thing) and taking the utmost care of his girls.
Combat tours, overseas tours, deployments and special assignments has peppered Clay’s career. We have had our share of “See Ya Laters” and “Welcome Homes.” There is nothing more heart wrenching than saying good bye and praying that this moment will not be our last.
So what does American Sniper do for the military spouse?
1. It validates her. As a military wife, we don’t do what we do for awards or medals. We are rarely recognized, except for “coming home” and retirement speeches. This is why military spouses are called the “Silent Ranks.” After watching “American Sniper,” I feel that the sacrifices we make as a military spouse is validated.
2. It showcases a very real image of war. As I watched the movie, I was taken back to Clay’s deployments. The calls, the MWR lines, the satellite phones, talking in code and the dreaded dropped call connections. I have been on the phone with Clay when his location was hit with insurgents, rockets or bombs and then the call dropped. There is nothing more gut-wrenching than the fear of the unknown. That old saying, “no news is good news” is a military wife mantra. You cling to God’s protection and being thankful that the men and women in their dress uniforms haven’t shown up at your door. After living on the other side of war as a spouse, I believe it is important for the rest of the world to see, know and feel, even for a brief moment, what military spouses feel every single day while our husbands and wives are over there.
3. There is nothing like a homecoming. The scene where Taya welcomes home Chris was about as real as it gets. It was much like a normal homecoming. Everyone watches the videos on YouTube of military welcome homes and cries a tear of joy. It IS much like that. However, what isn’t shown on those videos is the adjustment afterwards. I am glad that the fairy tale homecoming myth was smashed in this movie. The reality is the adjustment period after the homecoming is very real. When Clay hasn’t been deployed in awhile (3 months, 6 months, a year, more) it has been much like what Chris went through with wanting to be back over there. I don’t think most of the normal population in the world can possibly understand the drive to WANT to be there, unless you have lived it. About a year after Clay came back from Iraq the second time, he called me from work and asked to meet me for lunch. I will never forget it as long as I live. He sat me down and said that he wanted to volunteer to go to Afghanistan. In “American Sniper,” Chris Kyle couldn’t cope with being in the comforts of his home while his buddies were over there. He desired to be back there doing what he did best which was saving lives. That is much how Clay felt. While he loves us and is so in love with me and the kids, the thought of someone else being there in a spot he could be in was haunting to him. When I left that lunch with Clay I told him this was his decision. Regardless what he decided, as heart wrenching as it would be for him to leave again, I would be right here waiting on him when he came back.
I posted that on Facebook and got a lot of flack! People telling me I was crazy to tell him such a thing, after all I should put my foot down. lol
4. PTSD Awareness. For years we have known that Clay has had PTSD, he just wasn’t officially diagnosed. Part of that was because he just didn’t want that on his record or the stigma that came with such a diagnosis. He’s a stubborn man…LOL! However, during this tour overseas, he finally visited a mental health provider to get the help he desperately needed. As I said, we always knew, but now he has the official diagnosis of PTSD. This film portrays the signs and symptoms of PTSD so that others can see and possibly understand. The signs of feeling alone or distant, the flashbacks, the reactions to loud noises, the avoidance of crowds, the constant feeling of being on alert, the inability to connect with people outside your circle and the list goes on. I believe this is really important for young military spouses to see and understand, as well as the more seasoned military spouses. This part of deployments travels back to validation, I believe. Validation for those who serve and those who stand behind them, waiting on the tarmac for those return flights and holding the “Welcome Home” banners.
This movie was needed to share Chris Kyle’s story. However, it didn’t just share HIS, it is the story of thousands of other Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who have sacrificed so much for this country. I hope and pray that this movie shows the American public that those families need the support of the whole nation. Supporting the troops isn’t just a Facebook status or meme. It isn’t just wearing red on fridays, a yellow ribbon magnet on your car or posting a sign in your yard. It is so much more. It isn’t just while the Soldier is deployed, it continues long after he comes back. That is why American Sniper is for military spouses. Our voice was finally shared. I pray that America listens and finds more ways to reach out to military families.
Throughout the movie many tears were shed. The battles, the calls, the separations, the kids, all of it was too real. At the end of the movie was an older guy who, I am assuming, was a WW2 veteran. He could hardly stand up and his wife was helping but he was shedding many tears. Folks, “American Sniper” was WW1, WW2, Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq War, Afghanistan. This is the story of all who have served, continue to serve and sacrifice so selflessly. It is also the military spouses’ story.
If you haven’t saw “American Sniper” yet, I recommend you do. However, let me warn you that the movie does contain foul language that is often a very real part of war. It isn’t a “Christian” movie, but while I normally stick to movie reviews that are Christian, a few scenes in the movie mention God and there is also a church scene. Although an “R” rated movie is not one I would recommend, this is a must see for all. You cannot leave this movie and not be moved. If you haven’t read my post on military and the church, check it out HERE.