While American Sniper is shattering box office records, the story of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle is also assisting servicemembers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Kyle, who also suffered from the devastating disorder, was passionate in sharing his struggles with fellow veterans in his life. His legacy of service continues today, nearly two years after his death, through his story.
Jacob Schick, a retired Marine who made an appearance in American Sniper as a wounded vet, spoke to People magazine about the fallen hero. Schick believes Chris Kyle’s story is powerful enough to change lives.
The Marine said:
For any warrior who is struggling mentally, or even the families who go see this film, if they see, “Wow, if a guy like Chris Kyle could struggle and get help, then I need to do it also; he was so full of pride but he felt like he couldn’t fight these demons on his own” – then I think this movie might push a warrior or at the family of a warrior away from the edge.
In a 2004 IED attack, Schick lost most of his right leg below the knee and part of his left hand and arm, and eventually endured 46 surgeries and 23 blood transfusions. He had a close relationship with the Kyle family leading up to his appearance in the film.
Schick hopes those who see American Sniper will find a greater appreciation for American servicemembers who are faced with the task of trying to readjust to civilian life after all the battles have been fought.
“I want them to see how challenging it is when these warriors come home and have to transition into the civilian sector and try and not be what they were overseas,” Schick said. “It is extremely challenging.”
American Sniper screenwriter Jason Hall spoke of the film’s impact on America’s veterans, and he believes Chris Kyle was the reluctant face of PTSD.
“He wore that like a heavy coat a little bit, and there was this reluctance to wear that crown,” Hall said.
Many in the PTSD community have also reached out to the screenwriter to discuss how the film has changed their lives. Hall spoke of some of his discussions since the film’s debut.
“We got this story from a therapist who saw six of his patients who are shut-ins – guys who won’t go outside because they have PTSD – at the theater seeing the movie,” he says. “To know that these guys are making it outside for this and to know that it’s opening up their world is just beyond profound.”
Says Hall, “The most beautiful part of all of this is that a lot of people are seeing what they want to see with this movie, but these soldiers and the people who have been affected by war in this way are seeing what we intended for them to see.”
Hall concluded by saying, “That therapist who saw six of his patients in the movie said, ‘Chris was serving these guys in life and now he’s serving them in death.'”