PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – The Clint Eastwood directed movie “American Sniper” broke box-office records last weekend and is up for multiple Academy Awards, but it’s also been facing controversy since its release.

The movie is about real life Navy SEAL and sniper Chris Kyle and while some think the movie is a glorification of war, many veterans say it accurately depicts the struggle soldiers face when they return home from combat.

Local Army Veteran and author of “Outlaw Platoon,” Captain Sean Parnell and founder of Steel City Vets and vet of the 101st Airborne Division Ben Keen both joined “The KDKA Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway to share their opinions on the movie and the controversy surrounding it.

Parnell got to know Kyle pretty well.

“He had a larger than life personality. Any time he walked into the room, he instantly lit it up. He was funny. He had a real tough guy exterior, but he also had a pretty big compassionate heart,” Parnell said.

Parnell said about the movie, “it did an unbelievable job capturing everything about war. All too often we see films that just focus on the battlefield. Even warriors don’t recognize that the real fight begins for them when they get home.”

He adds that he doesn’t see “American Sniper” as a pro-war film, but as a film that need to be seen so that it, “starts a dialog between citizen and warrior on what it means to serve and to how to bring our (soldiers) home effectively.”

Keen, a member of the 101st Airborne agrees with Parnell that the movie is important for civilians to see so they can realize that the, “war does not end when (soldiers) leave Iraq or leave Afghanistan.”

He adds that even though he has been out of service for a few years that, “there’s no off switch to say ‘Okay, I’m done with this.’ Even now, being away from the service, it’s hard to pull yourself away.”

Steel City Vets has teamed up with South Side Cinemas for a special showing of “American Sniper” this Saturday at 4 p.m.

After the movie a Q&A session will he held featuring veterans that will answer any questions those in the audience have.

Keen says that he wants the event to show civilians what life is like for soldiers when they come home and to show veterans they are not alone.

For more information on the event visit www.steelcityvets.org

Listen to “The KDKA Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway weekdays 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA.

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