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American Sniper : PTSD

Man they’ll send you to Leavenworth if you’re wrong. They’ll fry your ass.

Imagine being in an armed conflict where the enemy isn't a uniformed military. Imagine having to make the judgement call that the child you are looking at through a scope is not a mere civilian trying to go to the market, he is armed and dangerous. War is a hell of a thing and no matter what side you are on, no matter who's right or who's wrong violence leaves a scar on us all that we are forced to live with. An unsightly scar, a cross we have to carry until we dig deep and figure out how to overcome the trauma. This is the reality of those in armed conflicts no matter what country they fight for. This is the picture Clint Eastwood paints with "American Sniper" for those who care to look beneath the surface.

 

YOU ARE EXPECTED TO DO YOUR JOB. YOU ARE A DRONE WITHOUT FREE THOUGHT WHO MERELY FOLLOWS THE ORDERS OF THOSE IN COMMAND.

This marks the opening of the movie as Chris Kyle looks down the scope of his rifle trying to figure out if a child and his mother are hostiles or civilians merely out for a walk. Shit it took me so damn long to write this review because I myself didn't even know if I was interpreting what I was seeing correctly ! You can easily watch this movie and think it is one of those "fck yeah 'mericuh !" super patriotic movies but it wasn't . It shows a theme many in the Armed Services do not want to address : violence and its effects on the mind. For starters I am in the armed services, the Navy to be specific. You are expected to do your job. You are a drone without free thought who merely follows the orders of those in command. Of course rules are set in place to keep order because with out order there IS chaos. While this is true there is no consideration for the man being ordered around, sometimes even your own perception of yourself warps into focusing on the whole instead of yourself. You assimilate into a "group think" mentality. Keep that in mind but back to Chris Kyle.

"There are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs,Some people prefer to believe that evil doesn't exist in the world,and if it ever darkened their doorstep, they wouldn't know how to protect themselves. Those are the sheep.

Then you've got predators, who use violence to prey on the weak. They're the wolves.

And then there are those blessed with the gift of aggression, an overpowering need to protect the flock.These men are the rare breed who live to confront the wolf. They are the sheepdog."

Early on in the movie they show his childhood as his father gives him a speech about some people being sheep and how the world needs shepherds to protect the flock from the wolves of the world. With this mentality Kyle joins the navy as a SEAL. If you know anything about the SEAL's those guys are hardcore. Take a lot of mental conditioning to make it through that training. You learn to neglect yourself in light of the mission. The mission and only the mission is the priority so if you have to sacrifice your own life to make sure it is a success then so be it. So now imagine you got a guy like that with this type of training with the ideology instilled in him by his father as a child to be the protector ? A warzone is the PERFECT place for you. What better place to be a protector than somewhere where everyone is in immediate danger ? The ideology of why you are at war quickly eludes you and you only focus on saving your own. This makes Kyle the perfect killer. He has the resolve to do so. Each shot is well calculated and his ideology that he is working towards the greater good keeps his hands steady. He is at peace with violence.

 

You’re my husband, you’re the father of my children. Even when you’re here, you’re not here. I see you, I feel you, but you’re not here.

Shxt gets real as it always does. Kyle has a family. A wife and daughter that he loves as do most members of the military. Family keeps you human in the respect that you know where you came from and in some cases you know who you will be coming home too. You know what they say though "you can't serve two masters". You can't serve one master that adores the violent side of you (the military) and the other that wants the loving side of you (family). You have to pick one or face a mental breakdown as the stress from the two extremes of your personality moving in two dramatically different directions takes effect. This is what Kyle starts to experience : PTSD. PT freakin' SD. Its a buzz word many of us know but few of us would like to acknowledge for two reasons : in the case of the military member it probably means you won't be as effective in your job as a trained killer and for the civilian it means that they would have to take some form of responsibility for the votes placed to send you out to war as a sane man only to watch you return as a mentally or physically crippled man. WOO ! Took a lot out of me to finesse something so intricate into a sentence.

 

If you think that this war isn’t changing you you’re wrong. You can only circle the flames so long.

There are plenty scenes of Kyle's interaction with his family when he's home between tours. He brings the war home with him and it get's worse every time he returns from combat. His perception of a normal life being mundane and the things he says such as "these people don't know or give a fuck about what's really going on" really shows you the gradual deterioration of his mind. The more I watched the movie is the more the theme of PTSD started rearing its ugly head. I do not agree with the others who have reviewed this movie (some later admitting they haven't even watched it lol) claiming it is merely American propaganda. It is far from that but a necessary movie to facilitate the discussion of violence,stress, PTSD and how it is effecting us as a society. We are a country that has been at war 222 years out of 239 since 1776. This means we have created many Chris Kyle's who have had to carry the burden of violence & PTSD unwittingly. These men become hit men for politicians who decide when & why we go to war but won't dare to lace their boots and don an M16. American Sniper isn't a propaganda movie...its a wake up call.

I need you... to be human again. I need you here.

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ArticlesAdisa Sobersart