The essay provides interesting balance, but not everyone takes the movie as a cautionary tale about the misuse of soldiers in unnecessary wars. From a student of mine on FB: “I stopped breathing (multiple times). I cried. I do not pray for our guys and gals in the military enough. I am proud to have men and women like Chris Kyle serving our country.”
What many people take from the movie is not that bad wars hurt our veterans even more than we understood, rather, that we owe more than we realized to PTSD victims for protecting us. Their hardships deserve more gratitude. Their suffering makes the purposes of war too sacred to question.
I agree there’s something to be said just for putting the extent of hardship on the record. But that alone can easily lend support to American wars as challenge them. The film fits very easily into a powerful tendency among some veterans to hype the necessity of our wars so that their suffering gets more credit. I prefer a narrative of apology: We owe veterans not thanks for fighting unnecessary wars, but our penance for sending them.