Hold Your Applause: A Military Spouse’s Take on ‘American Sniper’


American-Sniper-movie

As new parents, we take every opportunity we can to go see movies, and when American Sniper was released, we quickly bought our tickets ahead of time. On day of the show, we shoved snacks in my purse (shh!) and headed to the theater. I brought tissues, and cursed the fact that I didn’t wear waterproof mascara that day. I read the movie was intense and may be hard to watch at times, so at least I was prepared an emotional rollercoaster—and the movie delivered.

As a military spouse, it was hard to watch. But strangely enough, I didn’t end up using the tissues. When my husband was in Afghanistan in 2008, he called me from an MWR phone room, not on a satellite phone from a fire fight. I didn’t hear gun shots and people yelling on the other end of our phone calls. He wasn’t in danger in the same way Chris Kyle was, and I’m thankful for that.

Later, my husband told me about near-misses and close calls, but nothing compared to what Taya Kyle endured on the other end of that phone. ”How could Chris put Taya through a phone call like that?” I asked my husband, “Why call your wife when you’re being shot at?” He stoically responded “Most likely, he wasn’t thinking of it like that at all. It could have been the last time he talked to her.”

I also didn’t endure the hardship of being pregnant while my spouse was deployed, nor have I had to raise our 1-year-old with a father gone much of the time, or suffering from PTSD. My husband has been an awesome partner in her care. To the spouses forced to do much of it alone: you are my heroes.

American-Sniper-the-movieMy husband had a different take on the movie. He’s lost close friends in these wars. He’s attended far too many memorial services in his decade of Army service. One of his closest friends from ROTC was killed in her Humvee just weeks before she was slated to return home. And when I first met my husband in 2007, he was wearing the black KIA bracelet with her name on it …a name that would later become our daughter’s middle name.

As the movie ended, there were photos of Chris Kyle, his family, his brothers in arms, and his memorial service. My husband told me this was the hardest part of the movie for him to watch. The theater was completely silent as people filed out. We left the theater once the actual credits began to roll, still in complete silence, wrapping up our trash as quietly as possible.

That silence is what has stayed with me. I’ve seen movies where the audience applauded at the end, so I wondered how moviegoers would show respect for this story at the end of this film. Applause just didn’t feel right. A moment of silence out of respect for Chris Kyle was so much more impactful. And, if #AmericanSniper tweets are any representation, it seems that’s the way it’s been throughout much of the country.

Though the story was incredibly tragic, ultimately, it’s serving a purpose: educating our country about the dangers of PTSD. Though we were all silent as we exited the theater that day, we must not remain silent on this important issue. If you know someone you think may be suffering from PTSD, please support them in finding help. Say something and possibly save a life.

Have you seen American Sniper? How did the movie make you feel? Tell us what you thought of this amazing film in the comments below!

Melissa-JudyPosted by Melissa Judy, Social Media and Brand Manager

18 Comments

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  1. 2
    cocobrava

    I saw this movie last weekend- my husband is retired military but I was not with him when he was in the military and he never had to go through all the deployments our military and their families go through these days- I felt incredibly proud of the men and women who serve and their families- I feel so grateful that this movie gives a glimpse into what a military family goes through, most people have no clue.. We need to do more for our guys and girls coming home and more for their families too.. they earned it for sure.. we are grateful for their sacrifices for our freedoms- as for the movie I HIGHLY recommend it to everyone .. it was a very special movie and I am thankful that the Kyle family shared it with us.

  2. 3
    Ivette

    I have not watch the movie yet, but your blog made me cry and have more respect and love for all the military and their families. God bless your husband and your family!!

  3. 4
    Bette

    One of the most amazing, educational movie I have seen in a long time. It really explains so much of war and what and how these soldiers are affected by it. We have a son who was a Marine and in the first shock and awe invasion and back again for a second tour and we can relate to his personality change. Not easy to deal with, but now we can understand him a little better. Thank you Clint Eastwood for directing and informing us about Chris and his struggles.

  4. 5
    Brian Warren

    exactly the same response in Rockford Illinois this past Saturday. My wife and I went. Not a movie my wife wanted to see or a type she usually watches but we both agreed it was great (difficult to watch, made you feel for the characters and certainly gave some insight into what many men and women serving our country and their loved ones have gone through) At the end the theater was completely silent. Thanks to your husband for his service God Bless.

  5. 6
    Cathy Brumfield

    I watched the movie this past Monday night with my spouse, retired military. He spent time in Iraq and thankfully made it home safe to me. He is also a police officer so we were accompanied by 5 other officers and their wives. I too took tissue and was prepared for lots of tears. I didn’t cry until the end but I did cry. I cried for Taya and her children. I cried for the soldiers that endure so much to protect our freedoms. I cried thankful tears that my soldier was sitting right beside me. You could have heard a pin drop in the theater. No one said a word and walked out in complete silence. I’ve never experienced anything like it and likely never will again. I agree applause just didn’t feel right. The moments of silence seemed a much more appropriate way to honor this man that gave so much.

  6. 7
    Cheryl

    There were so many messages in this movie that were genuinely moving. When I laugh, or cry watching a movie, I don’t give the critics a chance.
    The portrayal of the kind of husband Chris was; protective, reassuring, gentle, and as honest as he could allow himself to be, a little at a time, admitting yo being nervous with his wife after the first deployment, that’s real! That happens!
    I feel we need more movies like this that remind us exactly why we live in the greatest country in the world. Just maybe some would begin to appreciate what we have here a little more.
    I am grateful to all Military Branches, to their families who also sacrifice, and to the people who honored the life of one true American hero. You’re all heroes to me!!!

  7. 8
    Rebecca

    I haven’t seen the movie yet but plan to next weekend. It’s going to be a hard movie to watch. I have had friends over there that’s come home with PTSD. Also I’ve worked as EMT for years and seen the effects of it. Thank you for spreading the word about it and the website. Thank you to all that have served and their families. I have seen that reaction in a movie theater once before with Lone Survivor. I still get chills remembering the total silence that followed us to the parking lot.

  8. 9
    Josh

    I am not military and I usually don’t agree when the government does send troops to these foreign lands but it makes me cry when I see all these young men and women come home crippled or not at all. The way the government refuses to accept the results of war on these citizens who suffer from PTSD is just outrageous. It really makes me feel like, you no longer have any service to us so good bye, good luck and don’t bother us.
    Because of all of the above is why I contribute to this charity. Your focus is there is a military, families get left behind, have to deal with tremendous hardship, the government doesn’t care so someone has to step and we do.

    • 10
      Lynne

      saw the movie after reading the book & experienced the same thing – complete & total silence even as we left the theater. Only other time I recall having an experience like that was after seeing Platoon in HS. I have friends & family that are active duty, and veterans as well – I’m involved with a group that works with wounded warriors and has brought sled hockey to our community. I am continually humbled by their sacrifice & attitude- they see themselves as doing their jobs – I see them as heroes and am eternally grateful for the service of my Grandpa, Dad, Cousins and friends- thank you isn’t enough to express my gratitude!

  9. 11
    heather

    Regardless of the content, it was nice to see a woman on screen declare that her husband was physically there, but wasn’t present mentally or emotionally. Coming home does not equal coming home. This movie helped to open up a dialogue between me and my spouse, and I could not believe that some of what was said in the movie was word for word what my husband said in the past.

  10. 13
    J C

    The movie moved me. I think it did a great job of capturing the emotions associated with multiple deployments. What resonated most was the feeling of the disconnect I felt the American people had when I came home, the uneasiness of when you first get home and the feeling of guilt associated with those that I had to leave behind in theater to continue the mission. I always felt guilty for being home.

    As a hospital medic in Balad, I saw my fair share of the carnage of war. I often thought about the guys that made it. Military medicine is so advanced now, the survival rate is over 90% for those that received care immediately after a battlefield injury. There’s a lot of guys who survived their physical wounds but are still trying to work through their psychological wounds.

    Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood did a great job of capturing the rawness of how war changes a person no matter how gung ho most of us were. You look at the world little different afterwards. It still doesn’t explain why most vets can’t really talk about their experiences unless you’ve been there. It was a good movie that raised awareness on huge American problem, how to help the hundreds of thousands that have war related issues. I’m glad it’s shining a light on those who were selfless in their service and equally important the families that had to stay behind. We often said downrange staying home was the harder job of the two.

  11. 14
    2004djmjdm2004djmjdm

    Informative article. Glad you wrote about this movie. We have not seen the movie. We go back & forth on if waiting until the movie is released on DVD or going to the movie theater. My husband did see a lot of action while in Iraq, we add humor that he used 5 of 9 lives while there. His PTSD and TBI do cause regular challenges in our every changing daily new normal. It is all worth it though. For I am the lucky wife, my husband is home with his family.

  12. 15
    Tisha

    Great article, as a military spouse whose husband was deployed while I was pregnant has served two or is it three tours Iraq and Afghanistan as a registered caregiver for my soldier by the VA, yes I relate to this movie. I relate to the constant need for your hubby to want to go back…my thought was go back to what ? We are here .. Hello US over here, your family. It’s our life I saw it in this movie, Yes, I loved this movie it stated facts, I am saddened by the fact he was ultimately killed by one of our own …….a veteran . His legacy will live on and I am thankful for this movie and thankful for him and his family for telling this story. The theater silence was eerie but that’s what we do we honor our fallen, and that we did as moviegoers.

  13. 16
    Dee

    Good article, and thank you to your husband for his service. I have not really wanted to see this movie, its a difficult type of movie to watch. Both my husband and I are Navy Veterans. My husband deployed to Iraq in 2008 a few months after our daughter was born, he fortunately didn’t get physically injured but did come back 8 months later with PTSD, and problems started to arise within our marriage. About a year later I deployed and things got very bad between us. When I returned he had divorce paperwork waiting for me. We both finished our enlistments and went through about 2 years of individual therapy. About a year ago we decided to give it another try, we still both do the individual therapy and have learned ways to help each other through the hypervigilance, night terrors and anxiety attacks. Life is very different, we are not the same people who met in high school 12 years ago. We both have our problems. And if we had to do it all over again, I know we would.
    …sorry I kind of went on a tangent…

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