Beyond The Silk Screen

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American Sniper is a box-office hit  depicting the life of  real American war hero Chris Kyle, who was tragically murdered by a fellow veteran. But, as with any Hollywood depiction there is more to the tragic story. Chris Kyle’s story is still unraveling and there are other parts that were just overlooked.

February 11th, 2015

Tomorrow marks an important day for the real life sniper’s family as his killer will begin trial. Chris Kyle’s killer Eddie Routh will be attempting to make an insanity plea by claiming the effects of PTSDterrorized him. The prosecution is shooting for a life sentence without parole, but not the death penalty. To find out more about trial and the difficulties in selecting an unbiased jury  click here.

Surprising Accounts

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But, Chris’s story isn’t all about guts and glory. The New Yorker’s article, “In The Crosshairs,” describes some alleged situations where Chris Kyle struggled to adapt to home life and was still in the military mindset.


After Chris Kyle returned he was faced with the daunting task of transitioning to everyday life. It was reported that Chris took to drinking as a way of handling the rough adjustment.The New Yorker reports that Chris Kyle wrecked his vehicle after driving drunk and was let off without the charge of DWI.

Defense Shooting

It is alleged that while stateside Chris fell victim to an attempted carjacking where he shot and killed the two assailants at a gas station. Chris was never charged but insisted that the gas station had footage depicting the incident.

Hurricane Katrina

After hurricane Katrina Chris told friends that he and a friend went to the storm zone and killed individuals that were causing chaos, such as looters. Chris claimed to have killed at least 30 people. This account has been denied by officials who claim that someone would have discovered the bodies.

These cases are up for interpretation and speculation, but one conclusion I draw is that even the best and brightest have skeletons in their closet. These stories could just have been exaggerations, and a way for Chris to keep living up to his legendary persona, or they could be over looked crimes. We may never know.

The Positive

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By no means am I attacking a veterans honor, but rather reporting on details less commonly known. Chris Kyle was loved by those around him and dealt with being home by helping fellow veterans. Chris struggled to find the same kind of purpose he had while serving. Chris developed the idea of getting workout equipment donated, which he would then set up in veterans’ homes. Chris would also take fellow veterans on hunting excursions where they could bond and deal with their shared troubles. In the end, Chris lost his life setting time aside for a struggling veteran.

Looking Back On Chris’s Killer

Eddie’s family had him checked into a veterans hospital several times. They saw him lose his mind as he threatened his own life and others. What they could not have foreseen was that he would harm someone willing to help and understand him and his troubles. Eddie’s family felt that more could have been done to get him the help he needed.

Are They So Different?

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Both the victim and the assailant struggled with the ravaging effects of PTSD. In reality, it doesn’t matter if you are a hero, or not, there is a stigma associated with PTSD. Veterans do not want to seem weak; it goes against everything drilled into their minds as they train to be soldiers. I think Eddie’s mother made a valuable point: “The Marines had trained her son for war, she said, but they never “untrained” him for normal life. Shaking her head, she added, ‘And we’re some of the lucky ones. Because we had our kid back, you know? He didn’t come home in a body bag.’”


Based on successful evaluation Chris Kyle was recommended to serve on the SEAL’s team that eventually took down Osama bin Laden showcased in the film Zero Dark Thirty, but he never got the chance. There is no doubt that Chris Kyle is a hero for our country, but it is important to remember that when these heroes come home many cannot leave their emotional baggage at the war zone. There is a darker reality behind the silver screen’s portrayal. Veterans need to be  encouraged to seekassistance and let others know if they need help.


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