Coming Home to Damaging Stereotypes

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Chris Marvin began to believe veterans might have an image problem when he went out to his mailbox one morning and found a check from a wounded veterans charity for $500.

“I didn’t know them,” said Mr. Marvin, 35, a retired Army helicopter pilot who broke his legs, an arm and bones in his face in a crash in Afghanistan in 2004. “I didn’t ask for it. I started to wonder, what is this for?”

“It really started to bother me,” he said. “I didn’t need charity. I needed a new sense of purpose.”

To Mr. Marvin, he was being stereotyped by what he believes has become the dominant image of veterans on television and in Hollywood today: the “broken hero,” as he puts it, “who once did incredible things but is now forever damaged and in need of help.”

“The truth is, 99 percent of us are neither heroic nor broken,” Mr. Marvin said. “We are people — people the public has invested in who have a lot of potential. And it’s time to get over the pity party.”

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