Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day isn't just for the ones who died..

On Memorial Day we have parades and ceremonies for US veterans who were injured or gave their lives while serving for the armed forces around the world.  This local story is a reminder that some of our veterans come back with injuries that aren't so easy to see.      

ROCKWOOD: Police from four departments needed to subdue ex-Army Ranger

During the altercation, a Rockwood officer was able to help handcuff the man, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tried to calm him, but he would not comply with any of the officers’ commands, according to police.
After he was handcuffed, officers attempted to turn him around, but he tried to jab them with elbow strikes.
Another Rockwood officer arrived and attempted to assist putting the man in a patrol car, but he again started to kick and use elbow strikes.
After a warning that he was going to be shot with a Taser if he did not settle down, the man kicked officers multiple times on the legs.
Police attempted to apply “flex cuffs” on the man’s ankles, but he broke them and the officers were not able to maintain control of him, the report said.
The officers holding him were told to turn the man loose so the third officer could shoot him with a Taser. He was shot in the lower abdomen and upper back. The man fell to the ground, hitting his chin on the pavement...
After returning to the police station with the man, officers said they had trouble getting him to get out of the patrol car and into the building. Officers had to carry the man into a cell and his restraints were removed.
Officers could hear the man kicking the glass and concrete walls in the cell. The report said the man threatened to “find and kill” one of the officers and threatened to shoot another.
Gibraltar and Flat Rock officers assisted Rockwood officers with the man in the cell. The Rockwood Fire Department also was called.
The report said the cell had blood all over it and the man was bleeding from his face. Police said he was smiling while talking with them and punching the windows.
The man’s wife came to the station and told officers that her husband is a skilled combat fighter and she is afraid of him. She said she considers him dangerous, saying he sometimes “just snaps.”
She told police that her husband routinely carries a gun and recently, while driving, he grabbed a gun and put a bullet in it because he thought another motorist was staring at him.
The man was taken to Southshore for psychological evaluation.
Well, it would be a disgrace if the Army had lost track of this former Ranger and had no idea of the psychological problems he is apparently having, perhaps related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  from his tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  There is no telling what horrors this soldier has faced and survived through.

So when the article said the former Army Ranger was taken to Southshore hospital for psychological evaluation, it pointed out a systemic failure.  Southshore is a country clinic where helicopters come to pick patients up to take them to a real hospital pronto.   Any psychologist there is unlikely to be prepared to to treat former soldiers with PTSD.  The call should have been to the VA to come get your Ranger and the doctors there should already be familiar with this case.  And in my opinion this former ranger should not be allowed to carry firearms until he is deemed safe to himself and those around him.

If there are people around him who have been turning the other way to pretend there is no problem, they are doing him a disservice.  If there are people in the VA or the Army who have been giving his loved ones the runaround to keep the Army from having to pay for treatment then shame on them.  And if the problem is that we as a nation don't care all that much about combat injuries we cannot see directly, them shame on us all.

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