Paul Morigi/Getty
January 31, 2015 12:25 PM

After watching American Sniper during her recent flight to Saudi Arabia, Michelle Obama is calling for more films portraying veterans in a realistic light.

Speaking at a Friday panel which unveiled the new program 6 Certified, an initiative to recognize film and TV content that focuses on the reality of veterans, the first lady praised the critically acclaimed movie, which tells the story of the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who was known as the most lethal sniper in U.S. history.

“[We need to] change the conversation about our veterans and military families,” Obama said to the audience, following discussions with the film’s producers and lead actor Bradley Cooper.

Obama acknowledged the film has had its fair share of critics, but pointed to the movie’s success at the box office as proof that the country is equally invested in the plight of veterans.

“More often than not, this film touches on many of the emotions and experiences I have heard first-hand from military families over these past few years,” she told the crowd.

“This movie reflects those wrenching stories I’ve heard, the complex journeys that our men and women in uniform endure, the complicated world, the decisions they are tasked with every day, the stresses of balancing love of family with love of country, and the challenges of transitioning back home.”

Unlike previous Hollywood hits that show veterans as “the broken, downtrodden vet who is homeless or on drugs or has such PTSD he can’t function – or the hero who lies with such courage and moral clarity all the rest of us can do is shower him with admiration,” Obama said the No. 1 movie in America has set a precedent in the industry.

Obama referenced other landmark roles that have sparked conversation – including Modern Family‘s Cam and Mitchell and an interracial couple on The Jeffersons – and added American Sniper has paved the way for film creators to finally “show who our veterans really are.”

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