American Sniper, the highest-grossing war movie of all time, forced this audience member to pause and consider the complicated homecoming our soldiers face as they try to regain their civilian lives. The theater where I sat with my friend Annette was pin-drop silent as the credits began to roll; people stayed in their seats, weighed down by the enormity of the Chris Kyle story.
Because my world tends to revolve around my work (seriously, I can’t turn it off), parallels immediately came to mind connecting Navy SEAL sniper Kyle and another famous warrior with his own troubled homecoming – Odysseus, king of Ithaca.
Over dinner that night, Annette and I determined that Chris Kyle and Odysseus both:
– loved their wives.
– left infants at home when called to fight abroad.
– narrowly escaped death numerous times.
– were legendary among their comrades.
– returned to a homeland more troubled than they could have imagined.
My students are setting sail with Odysseus and his crew this week and we’ll travel the Mediterranean for the next month. At the end of the journey, we’ll discuss the realities that soldiers face as they return from the battlefield and we’ll learn about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Finally, I’ll have my students become psychiatrists-in-training with a review activity that will have them digging back into the text to determine whether Odysseus does or does not qualify for PTSD treatment. My print-and-teach materials are available here, if you want to take a look.
Teach on, everyone!