When I first saw the movie American Sniper, I was let down, but as a former Navy SEAL, sniper instructor, and former sniper course manager, I’m biased. I just wanted so much more out of the movie from a technical point of view, and my bias blinded me to what I believe to be the true objective of the movie, which was to show the terribleness of war, the decisions that we as snipers face in combat, and the toll of it all back home.

The movie accomplished all of the above, and it was only after I saw it play out on the American audience that I realized that Clint Eastwood did, indeed, create a great film (regardless of my harsh Mil-tech criticisms). The film American Sniper has stirred an important national conversation about war and the duality of Americans in combat, and how this affects them and the worlds of their families back home. The movie showed how the two worlds inevitably collide; Chris served, but so did Taya and his children.

My own children and their mom know what it’s like to serve. Two weeks ago I flew to Portland to take my ten-year-old daughter and her brothers out for a day of fun for her birthday. Later that night, it was just the two of us out for a special dinner at Por Que No?, a great spot for Mexican, her favorite food.

Next to our table was a typical Portlandia family having an intense debate and discussion on the movie, American Sniper. They were actually having a talk about how the movie gave them some closure and insight into the situations that the American men and women who served in Iraq went through. My daughter looked over and whispered, “They have no idea who you are, dad!” I winked at her and we went back to talking about her art. She’s an amazing artist and just finished her first commissioned logo for my friend’s NYC-based elevator company. Pretty cool accomplishment for a ten-year-old girl. She’s amazing.

Part of the Problem

It’s a simple equation: You’re either part of the problem or you’re part of the solution.

Michael Moore, Seth Rogen, and Bill Maher fall on the problem side. They represent a lot of what’s wrong with this country today in entertainment and media. I’ll also be the first to admit that they have their counterparts on the conservative side who are just as guilty, and I’ll get to them another time.

After 9/11, I left my eight-and-a-half month pregnant wife and headed out the door with SEAL Team 3 to Afghanistan. I didn’t know if I would ever see her or my soon-to-be born son ever again. It was a sacrfice that my teammates and I made then and would make again to protect this country. It takes courage and sacrifice.

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Courage and sacrifice are two things that Michael Moore, Seth Rogen, and Bill Maher know very little about, or they wouldn’t have put out their half-baked commentary in an obvious attempt to draft off the success of a dead Navy SEAL hero’s movie, all in an attempt to entertain their core audience in Panem (see Hunger Games). They called my teammate a psycho killer, a coward, and compared him to Nazis, and never made an attempt to understand the man outside of how he’s been portrayed in the media and in a few hundred pages of his book American Sniper.  You can’t define a person in a few hundred pages.

If Moore, Rogen, and Maher are going to enter the public fray, then I’m not afraid to call all three of them out as moral cowards. I’m not giving them a hard time for not serving their country; I am singling out their cowardice and inability to have a very important conversation about war as influencial citizens of America. Their comments measured short on the civic duty yard stick that measures character.

We’ve been at war for over a decade with little to show for it. U.S. foreign policy is creating enemies like ISIS when it should be creating stability and peace in the world. It’s time for thought leaders, not problem makers. All three of these bobble heads could care less about America and where it’s headed. I learned in the SEAL Teams that a man is defined, not by his words, but by his actions. If you look at the actions of these three men, what they care about becomes very transparent: Popularity, TV ratings, and making money.

American Sniper, American Hero

In reality, Chris Kyle is an American hero. Chris and the rest of us wrote blank checks after 9/11 when we volunteered to support and defend the American Constitution against radical Islamic extremists – the same terrorists hell-bent on promoting change through violence, the same violence that killed over three thousand Americans in New York city on September 11, 2001. We took the fight to them on behalf of America, and you can rest assured that we sent quite a few to straight to hell with no regrets.

War is terrible, and I hope my own children never have to experience it. My friends and I don’t enjoy taking lives, but it’s neccessary sometimes, and the tragedy of it all is that we still live in a world where evil exists and good people have to stand up and fight.

It’s this same evil named ISIS that is burning people alive and beheading them on a global stage. Until we change the way we think and act in this world, wars will continue to be fought and good men and women will have to stand up and volunteer to fight for everything that is good in the world.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” -Martin Luther King

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Well said, Doctor King. I choose to believe the same.

Thank you to the team at Warner Brothers, thank you to Clint Eastwood, and thank you to Bradley Cooper for helping to make a movie that contributes to a conversation about the health and wellness of an America still at war. She needs it.

(Featured Image Courtesy: NY Daily News)