Did We Just Go Backwards in Veteran Mental Health?
I in no way want to discount the terror and tragedy that has unfolded in Maine the past 48 plus hours. My heart, thought and prayers go out to everyone involved. I cannot imagine. I hope that they find the suspect before anymore lives are lost, so he can stand trial for his crimes and be brought to justice.
I have a problem with how the media is portraying his possible mental health problems. Shortly after this horrific event the media began to focus on the suspects mental health. According to reports he had been in treatment for 2 weeks over the summer. People claimed that he threatened to attack the local base. Some reports were that he heard voices. All is this is still just speculation at this point.
This type of reporting has created a new firestorm. Some of the “experts” and lawmakers that have been interviewed have made comments like Veterans with mental health problems shouldn’t have a gun or veterans with mental health problems pose a danger to society and should be locked up. Many of these types of statements were made within hours of the shooting.
There were and still are too many unknowns. Was the suspect taking medication and if so could any of the side effects be hallucinations? Paxil and Zoloft, commonly used to treat PTSD, have a side effect warning of hallucinations and hearing voices in your head. The Warning Label for both of these medications clearly state that family and caregivers who see changes in the patients behavior to include hallucinations should contact the patients physician immediately.
Did the suspect have a TBI? It is now known that firearms instructors may possibly develop a TBI from the repetitive firing of a gun. Some of the symptoms of a TBI could be hallucinations and hearing voices.
While I am not saying that this particular person had any of these things they are something that should be considered before we label Veterans with PTSD, TBIs or other mental problems that they seek help for as “extremely dangerous” where they should be locked up.
As a result of these blanket statements we now have Veterans that are afraid to get the much needed help they deserve. I have had veterans reach out to me over the past few days in fear that their guns will be taken away from them, leaving them no way to protect their families.
Veteran spouses and families are reporting that since the conflict in the Middle East has escalated that their Veterans have become more on edge. Now we add this element.
I do agree that we have a mental health crisis in this country. I do believe that our veterans are not getting the help they need and deserve. I think it’s time we stop passing out diagnosis and medications and listen to the problems, create strong support structures that include the families and realize that a “one size fits all” diagnosis isn’t working. We have to develop a system where Veterans are not afraid to talk about their issues and problems, without judgement, or labels, or taking away the very rights they fought to protect.
Mental Health Care for our Veterans and families just took a huge strep backwards thanks to quick to judge media reports and some in the government.
God Bless the families and all involved in the Maine shooting. . God Bless our Veterans and their families. God Bless the USA.