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November 3, 2021

Post-war trauma awareness, via the story of WWII hero Audie Murphy, gets spotlight Nov. 9.

Movie-making comrades with ties to JCCC have banded together to produce and film “The Murphy Story,” a true portrayal of the life of Audie Murphy, the most decorated war hero from World War II. Written and produced by former JCCC Dean of Student Services and Success Paul Kyle and filmed by JCCC Videographers Sam and Andrew Tady with Sam also acting as director, the movie chronicles Murphy’s journey from warrior to civilian.

“Many times, battles don’t end on the battlefield,” said Kyle. “The hope for this film is to bring awareness of PTSD and the struggle that soldiers and their families face in the transition from military life to civilian life.”

A champion for veterans’ causes, Kyle was also instrumental in the development of JCCC Veteran & Military Student Resource Center. Kena Zumalt, Program Director, JCCC Veteran Services, has observed the latest generation of soldiers being braver to speak up and speak out about mental health needs. The impact of “The Murphy Story” puts a face on a real post-service crisis that remains prevalent today. The movie is an evolutionary story of how our current culture looks at veterans’ mental health.

"Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent to make civilians into soldiers and warriors; yet a fraction of that is used to return them to healthy and thriving community members." — Upchurch Foundation

“So many veterans look very successful, but inside some are re-experiencing their trauma and psychological strains on a daily basis,” said Zumalt. “We’re making strides and it’s becoming much less stigmatized.” Counselors will be on-site for veterans and their families to talk with before and after the showing.

A Glimpse of Murphy’s Life (Spoiler Alert)

Audie Murphy was a national war hero, and in 1945 he was on the cover of LIFE magazine. Hollywood was looking for pretty faces, and because of his charisma and notoriety, he naturally became a movie star. Even though he was only 20 years old at the end of the WWII, he had killed 240 German soldiers, had been wounded three times and had earned 33 awards and medals. After the war, he appeared in more than 40 films.

Around 1946, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, discounted earlier as battle fatigue, started to become recognized as a mental health issue. Murphy identified with PTSD and wanted others to understand the impact it could have on families. The 1955 release of “To Hell and Back,” a biopic story in which Murphy starred as himself, held box office records until “Jaws” came on the scene in 1975.

Before the credits roll, “The Murphy Story” concludes with interviews of two Gold Star families and Donny Whitton, JCCC student-veteran supporter and combat tour vet.

How Can You Honor Veterans?

Watching true depictions of situations like “The Murphy Story” is a start. Take a break to attend this free noon showing, Tuesday, Nov. 9, in Craig Community Auditorium (GEB 233). Kyle says showing support can be as simple as getting to know your neighbors who are veterans — listen to their stories and try to understand their needs. If you want to go further, support local organizations such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars, or donate to JCCC scholarships for veterans.

To inquire on hosting an impactful showing of “The Murphy Story,” contact Paul Kyle.