Another mass shooting in America. Another senseless, horrifying moment when people went to a place of happiness and comfort and peace – only to become targets of a senseless killing spree.
At the time, I thought I heard all the reasons and theories and thoughts and prayers for that horrifying, tragic night.
Then my son Kris added his own thoughts on his Facebook page.
“Here’s my inner struggle. The Marine who killed 11 then himself. Its terrible, and yet I can’t help but to feel bad for the marine as well. His mental health struggles, how he was failed by the very country he fought for. How if the military didnt stigmatizes mental health as a weakness maybe he would have gotten the help he needed. I’ve seen the horrors of PTSD. Especially combat related PTSD. That doesnt excuse what he did, by any means, but I think the country failed 12 people, not just 11. I dont normally feel sorry for spree killers. Why do I today?”
After reading that, I asked Kris if he would like to share his own thoughts about in today’s blog. He agreed. I should note that Kris served for several years in the Army National Guard. The following are his words.
“I want to believe that vets get the highest standards of care, but in my life I have watch them failed again and again. Does it sadden me that this happened, yes. But am I surprised? No, it is disappointing how little care soldiers seek after combat, and how little they know about the VA systems. I hear people screaming for gun reform, but no one screams for mental health improvements, they dont try to improve healthcare so vets who dont get approved thru the va can actually get access. It’s more then gun control, its helping your brothers and sisters. I know what it’s like to isolate, I have seen people only physically come back from combat. Can you imagine being in 2 shootouts. One in Vegas where the shooter just wanted to harm someone and one where the shooter just wanted an excuse. Reach out. Some of this could really be avoided.“
PTSD, or “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” is not limited to soldiers returning from war. Survivors of spousal and child abuse also suffer from PTSD, as do those who survive violent, traumatic events. A description of symptoms, causes and treatments are listed at this NIMH website.
This by no means excuses the murders caused that night in Thousand Oaks. But perhaps we might find a way – without arming everybody at churches and schools and nightclubs and grocery stores – to treat those who have served our country with loyalty and dignity, who have seen the horrors of war, and who can’t un-see those horrors today.