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Interview: Marine, Actor R. Lee Ermey On Military and the Media

Actor and Marine R. Lee Ermey, center, stands with GI Film Festival organizers Laura Law-Millett and Brandon Millett on Saturday, May 23, 2015. USNI News photo.

Actor and Marine R. Lee Ermey, center, stands with GI Film Festival organizers Laura Law-Millett and Brandon Millett on Saturday, May 23, 2015. US Naval Institute photo.

Actor and former Marine drill instructor R. Lee Ermey was honored at the GI Film Festival 2015 with this year’s Memorable Military Movie Character award for his award-winning portrayal of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket.

Prior to accepting his award at the Angelika Film Center in Fairfax, Va., on Saturday, Ermey spoke to USNI News about how the military and its image in the media has changed since his time in the Marine Corps. Ermey served in the Marine Corps for 11 years, including a 1968 deployment to Vietnam.

USNI News: First, since we’re at a film festival, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how the military was portrayed in the media when you were in the military versus how you see it being portrayed now.

Ermey: How was it portrayed in the media? You know, I was in during the Vietnam era, so we weren’t widely respected at all. Matter of fact, that was the era when, when you came back from war, they spit on you. That was the hippie generation though. There’s still some problems, still some situations, and there’s still some people in this world who just refuse to support our beloved military. But you know, they’re going to be like that. I don’t care what Michael Moore thinks about it any damn way, to tell you the truth. So, matter of fact, as far as I’m concerned Michael can just go on back up to Canada and no one would miss him around here. But our military is well looked-after these days. We need to make some adjustments with the [Veterans Affairs] hospitals so we get a little better treatment around here. They promised us a lot, you know, and we sacrificed a lot, and we think we should receive payment in full. And so we’ll make a few adjustments, and it’ll get back on track.

Actor and Marine R. Lee Ermey arrives at the GI Film Festival and greets organizers Brandon Millett and Laura Law-Millett on Saturday, May 23, 2015. USNI News photo.

Actor and Marine R. Lee Ermey arrives at the GI Film Festival and greets organizers Brandon Millett and Laura Law-Millett on Saturday, May 23, 2015. USNI News photo.

USNI News: Watching military and veterans stories on the news, are there any things that have you concerned or any things you’d like to see further advanced for the veterans and military servicemen?

Ermey: There are a few things. But basically overall I think we’re well supported, the military is well supported these days. Even people in “Hollyweird” will sometimes tell me that they support the military. And I generally will ask them, well how do you support the military? Which really puts them at a disadvantage because they don’t expect that. And they’ll think for a minute and say, well, something like, you never hear me say anything bad about them. So I guess that’s supporting our military, right? But we’ve got to love the guys and gals who go fight for this country.

GI Film Festival awards show host Jamie Kaler, left, with Semper K9 executive director and K9 program manager Christopher Baity, right, his son, Beau, and working-dogs-in-training Norman and Mikey. The GI Film Festival honored support groups like Semper K9 at its red carpet event on Saturday, May 23, 2015. USNI News photo.

GI Film Festival awards show host Jamie Kaler, left, with Semper K9 executive director and K9 program manager Christopher Baity, right, his son, Beau, and assistance-dogs-in-training Norman and Mikey. The GI Film Festival honored support groups like Semper K9 at its red carpet event on Saturday, May 23, 2015. USNI News photo.

USNI News: We see a lot of yellow ribbons, we see a lot of stickers on cars supporting the military. Do you think we’re doing enough, or is there more you’d like to see?

Ermey: A lot of American flags too, on the sides of barns and everywhere you drive, everywhere you go you see American flags flying – properly flying, lit at night and such as that. How could I improve on what we’ve done so far? Well, I would rather we didn’t give Fallujah back. There’s a few things I think we need to stand up to. I think we can’t just ignore terrorism, we cant just turn our back on it and expect it to go away. I mean, somebody around here seems to think if you treat them nice they’ll like you and they’ll leave you alone, but that’s not the case. But our guys are in good shape, we’re ready to go any time. Matter of fact, call me back, I’m ready to go.