American Sniper has been out for a couple weeks now and I finally went to see it. My husband had no real desire to see the movie (or any military related movie in general) but an opportunity arose when I had the chance to go to a private viewing for Team Red, White and Blue Fort Bragg. What can I say, I was curious. So, I avoided the various blog posts floating around critiquing the movie and went with an open mind. Along with a bit of wonder about why the audience was so quiet at the end.
As a spouse of an Army soldier I kind of knew what I was getting into. I “know” what my husband’s job is and the kinds of things he does while deployed. Well, to a degree. I am not there to see with my own eyes what he has seen and we do not really talk about it. That may sound completely insane to some people but we don’t. It is what works for us. My husband is also not that soldier that goes around telling others his old war stories either. Many Army guys are the same way. The subject of war is delicate and personal, each soldier has there own story.
While we may not speak in depth of what happens over there I do know bits and pieces. There are the spouses who do talk about things in depth with their soldier and blurt out things at coffees. To my husband showing me a Facebook message from a distraught mother who had lost her son and him not sure how to reply. I know enough. I know enough to know my husband goes out on missions where he may or may not have been involved in a fire fight. I know he has been shot at and he has shot at others. He has seen things blown up right in front of him. He has seen death. The death of his brothers and the other casualties of war, the bad guys to the innocent. His eyes have seen much in his four deployments to the sandbox.
As an Army spouse, I know all to well what the hardships are like. My husband and I got married when we did because he may or may not be deploying. His company commander even gave him the day off to get married. Four months later he was deployed to Kosovo. That was in 1999. That was our first taste of deployment. It wasn’t until after 9/11 that deployments became a regular word in our household. My husband deployed back to back with little down town in between. When there was down time he was either training or away at a school. It was just me and my boys. My husband and I joked that he was just some guy who visited. He liked deploying. It was what he joined the Army to do. It is what he trained for. He’s really good at his job too. Did war change him? Yes, how could a soldier that has seen and been in combat not change.
Life without my husband wasn’t always easy. I managed because what else was I suppose to do, just cry? I pulled up my big girl panties and dealt with whatever was being handed to me. I had high risk pregnancies, had surgery, dealt with getting my second son diagnosed with autism, sick kids and whatever else came my way. Trust me there was a lot. Me and Murphy, we go way back. I won’t even mention the times when I was on pins and needles hoping to hear from my husband after something horrible had happened. I’ve been called stoic more than once but we all have our breaking points. I’ll just say the shower is an awesome place to cry it out. I know i’m not the only military spouse that has done that.
This has just been our life. Five total deployments, four to the sandbox and with a few more years left to retirement who knows if there will be another one. So I fully knew what I was getting into when I sat down to watch American Sniper. I watched and there were funny parts, things I could relate to as a spouse and things I imagined were similar to what my soldier may have experienced. The movie had many similarities to my own life. Yes, there were things that may have been exaggerated but overall it was a good movie. If I had one wish for it, I wish they would of dove further into the subjects. Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper did good but I left wanting more of the story. Simply because I know so much more is there.
The movie ended on a somber note, with Chris Kyle leaving to take a struggling vet out. Then a statement of how he had passed and then actual footage from his funeral and all of the support he had and then it was over. No happy ending, just a somber reminder and a silent audience with many in tears.
If anything American Sniper is a good reminder to all of those out there who have forgotten what exactly our soldiers do for their freedom. The movie also gives a taste of what spouses live through that isn’t all rainbows and sparkles. It brings light to the issue of PTSD. Many of our soldiers experience so much when deployed. Over the years at war the military has gotten better about reintegration but the process is not foolproof. There are many programs out there to help returning vets. We lose far too many soldiers each day, an estimated 22 a day if you want to be particular. In my opinion that is far too many. There is so much that we can do to help our veterans. It is just a matter of doing it.
Interested in more ways to help Veterans check these great organizations.
Team Red, White and Blue
Semper Fi Fund
and HERE is a list from Veteran’s Affairs (VA) from 2013-2014