Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Death at the Camp Liberty Counseling Center

“Monday's shooting also raises new questions about how the U.S. military screens and treats soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related psychological maladies.” Wall St. Journal story . WSJ, the most liberal newspaper in the country, provides a nice side bar chart of all the military deaths for the last 7 years--less than the number of teens we lose in a year of auto accidents or soldiers in one battle in WWI.

Yes, and the anti-war, anti-military talking heads will come out of the wood work on this one. Actually, have you ever worked or associated with a mentally ill, depressed or “stressed” person and tried to get help? There is no easy way to do this--I’ve experienced it and you might be safer to transfer or quit rather than try to battle the system that protects everyone except the friend, co-worker or boss who knows there’s a problem. Just yesterday I stopped to visit an OSU friend--we worked together 30+ years ago, and Oh the stories we could tell about our former boss whose mental stability was fragile (she was brilliant, but thought everyone else was dumb and against her). At one incident (physical danger) we just stood in terrified disbelief and one of the calm Christian student employees, who probably didn’t know enough to be scared or felt closer to God than I did, softly and quietly talked her down. She wasn’t fired or transferred--but her contract wasn’t renewed the next year and she went on to become someone else’s problem at another university.

The Virginia Tech Korean immigrant student Cho had a long history of problems and “help” dating back to middle school before he went on a killing rampage, as did the immigrant center killer Wong in Binghamton. And for all the talk about “bullying” in schools after Columbine launched a thousand workshops, that turns out not to be the case in so many situations. We have a local case in Ohio where a teen has committed suicide after sexting her own nude photos, but the parents want to blame the school for not confiscating cell phones and checking them (this is illegal). And like the unfortunates at those other “gun free” zones, “Troops at Camp Liberty are supposed to keep their weapons unloaded, which may have made it harder for soldiers at the clinic to defend themselves when the assailant started shooting.” Obviously, the shooters don’t follow all the rules, do they?

I’m thinking a lot of people who worked with Army Sgt. John M. Russell knew he was in trouble--the trouble he hid from his family and close friends, because if you are stressed or depressed or even paranoid--you aren't that way 24/7. He loved the military and obviously wanted this career--he wanted to stay in, and he hadn’t risen in rank. The investigation hasn't happened yet but we know the military and the war will be blamed--at least in the media. We don’t even know how much combat he’d seen; but someone knew there was a problem and referred him for help. And 5 people died. At least six families are suffering, and our prayers are for them.

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