Based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography of the same name, American Sniper encompasses several depictions of injury and disability sustained during the Iraq war, not the least of which is the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder of Navy SEAL and sniper Chris Kyle himself. Once back stateside, Kyle encountered a former soldier and amputee whose life he had saved, who thanked him but–possibly recognizing some signs of PTSD–strongly urged Kyle to join them down at the VA. After an incident where he nearly kills a dog at a barbecue, Kyle decides to do just that. The VA doctor tells him that there are plenty of men who still need saving right here at home, and introduces Kyle to some of the wounded warriors still in recovery there.
Kyle begins taking the men out shooting “to get their balls back”, and the resulting discussion inevitably turns to how they acquired their injuries. In a memorable scene, one soldier credits his smoking habit with saving his right hand; he had been reaching for a cigarette when the IED hit, just far away enough from the blast that took away his legs and left hand. The soldier, Specialist Bryan Anderson, and his story were the genuine article, urged by star Bradley Cooper to tell his story candidly.
Another soldier Kyle visits is his buddy Ryan “Biggles” Job, wounded and blinded when he was shot in the face. Biggles is depicted as having died on the operating table shortly after his injuries and asking his girlfriend to marry him. In real life, Job was blinded in battle in 2006 when an enemy sniper’s bullet struck his rifle, sending pieces of the shattered weapon through his face. He survived much longer than he does in the movie. He was discharged from the military, got married, attended college, got a job, and climbed Mount Rainier and Mount Hood. Job died in 2009 from complications after going back for more facial reconstructive surgery while his wife was pregnant with their first child.