The author of an upcoming book about Navy SEAL Ryan “Biggles” Job, whose story is a small part of the film, offers another profile in courage. Only Robert Vera isn’t clamoring for Job to get his own big screen close up.
Both Kyle and Job were on SEAL Team 3, and they were together when Job suffered a grave facial injury from an Iraqi sniper. The blast blinded Job, but it hardly slowed him down.
Vera’s new book, “A Warrior’s Faith: Navy SEAL Ryan Job, a Life-Changing Firefight, and the Belief That Transformed His Life,” captures Job’s inspiring days before … and after … his serious injury.
Vera says actor Jake McDorman faithfully plays Job in the film, but director Clint Eastwood only touches on a small part of Job’s journey.
“No one thought Ryan Job would live [after the injury]. Many people risked their lives to save his life,” he says, adding one fellow SEAL died chasing the insurgents who shot Job.
Vera, a former U.S. Senate aide on military affairs, befriended Job after the SEAL returned home. They talked, trained together and pushed each other to be the best each could be, Job became active with his church, raced Ironman triathlons and hiked to the summit of Mr. Rainier.
People die every year trying to reach the mountain’s summit, and only half of those able-bodied climbers complete the ascent, Vera says. That didn’t stop Job.
“’I’ll be in the other 50 percent,’’ Vera recalls Job saying. “He never felt his blindness was an excuse for anything.”
Job also earned his college degree with a 4.0 grade average after returning home. But, like Kyle’s post-war story, Job’s ended in tragedy. He died of a medical overdose just days after a round of facial reconstructive surgeries.
Film Opens Eyes to Veterans’ Plight
Vera says “American Sniper” offers a “tectonic shift” in the way our culture understands military veterans.
“The best-kept secret is that the real war is right here at home. We’re losing more people here to suicide than we did in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he says. Which makes “American Sniper” a great way to inspire real action, and not just tickets selling nationwide.
“We’ve got a lot of kinetic energy [now]. Great … what are you gonna do?” he asks.
Veterans often won’t admit they need help or feel depressed. That’s why many veterans groups offer ways for former soldiers to connect with each other, stay active and heal without a prescription.
“There’s no pill you can take to cure hopelessness,” he says.
Vera hopes audiences moved by “American Sniper” will donate to groups like Camp Patriot which let veterans hunt, fish or simply bond with their peers to ease their transition to civilian life.
At first blush, Job’s story would be a perfect fit for the big screen. The notion doesn’t necessarily motivate Vera. He just wants the late SEAL’s story to be heard.
“If they make a movie … whatever. I don’t have a feeling one way or another,” Vera says. “[Job] inspired me … and he lived his life with faith.”
“A Warrior’s Faith” will be released March 3.