“American Sniper” is a movie that shows how our military protects our country in modern war. The movie is based on the life of Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in American military history. The Academy Award-nominated film is on track to go down in history as one of the biggest box office hits. The movie raked in more than $105 million in ticket sales in its opening weekend.
Despite all the acclaim, some celebrity tweets about the movie are causing backlash among fans and veterans.
Director Michael Moore and actor Seth Rogan have found themselves in hot water after exercising their First Amendment right.
On Sunday, Michael Moore tweeted that “snipers are not heroes.” And that he was taught snipers were cowards. He also said that invading a country that has not attacked you is illegal and immoral.
Seth Rogan compared the movie to the Nazi propaganda for a scene in ‘Inglorious Bastards.’
Juel Ephriam and Bernard Cook are both Vietnam War veterans who read the tweets Wednesday morning.
“They have no idea that freedom is not free. These people saying these things don’t know the history of America. Americans have had snipers serving in service since the Civil War on both sides,” Ephriam said.
“Those people don’t know what we had to go through or what the American G.I. now has to go through,” Cook said.
We caught up with veteran and author Grant McGarry via Skype. He served three deployments to Iraq and two to Afghanistan. He says that Michael Moore’s comments are more annoying than anything.
“Quite frankly, I don’t even give Michael Moore the time of day. I mean, who are they? Even this little bit that we’re discussing adds fuel to their fire or let’s them win. They’re nothing,” McGarry said.
“You are always going to have people that stand up and take fault in what servicemen do, but we fight to give them that right to do that,” Ephriam said.
Despite the negativity, local veterans hope that the blockbuster brings attention to the needs of veterans throughout the county. The movie is shedding light on the struggle of post traumatic stress disorder, and the need for volunteers at veterans affairs centers.
Gabrielle Metz is a psychotherapist at the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder clinic at the Birmingham VA Medical Center. She says that one in five veterans returning for war will be diagnosed with PTSD, and 22 veterans lose their life in suicide every day. Metz says she loves making a difference in veteran’s lives. Recently she spoke with a veteran who has greatly benefited from therapy.
“He said,‘My whole life has changed.’ And I said, ‘What happened?’ and he said, ‘I didn’t realize that I was living like I was still in Vietnam. My family knew that I was stressed, but I didn’t know that I had anxiety and stress,’” Metz said.
Caroline Nichols, a mental health social worker at the clinic, stresses that PSTD is a curable condition.
“One of the things I like to tell my veterans is that it’s really normal response to a very abnormal situation. Our veterans are doing the best they can with the skills that they can get it,” said Nichols.
The Birmingham VA Medical Center is always in need of volunteers, especially between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
“Veterans love to have visits from other veterans. We also have a central office. They can take your information and give you more information on how to volunteer,” said Charmel Taylor.
From reading to vets, to serving coffee. and simply spending time together, Taylor says it is extremely rewarding to give back.
“Well of course there’s a reward in being able to serve a veteran because you’re giving back to someone that is already given to you in such a great manner,” Taylor said.
Call (205) 933-8101 for more information on veteran therapy.
Veteran crisis line: 1-800-273-8255