“Let’s go crazy, let’s get nuts, slip on a purple banana ’til they throw us in the truck”-Prince
On April 2, 2014, Specialist Ivan Lopez took a Smith & Wesson .45 and went on a shooting spree around the Ft. Hood Army Base in Texas. Four other soldiers were killed and 16 were injured before the shooter shot himself in the head. What followed was a disgusting display by the media, who were blatantly and wantonly labeling Lopez as “another victim of PTSD. The talking heads, on BOTH sides of the aisle, speculated, assumed, and hypothesized about how Lopez’s actions that day were somehow influenced by his time and experience in Iraq. Very minimal time was spent considering the impact of the event on the community, the DOD, or most importantly, the families of the victims. All the media attention, as is SOP for them, was directed at the shooter, and in this case, his mental health as it related to the GWOT.
It has since come to light that this scumbag had no direct combat experience whatsoever, was never diagnosed with PTSD, and that his treatment for depression and anxiety was in no way related to his deployment. As a matter of fact, four days ago, it was confirmed that his ire and subsequent rampage was directed at his superiors for denying his leave request to attend his mother’s funeral. No small issue itself, but he wasn’t the otherwise easy-going guy that had been so damaged from his four-month deployment in Iraq as the media was all too quick to imply.
Speculation like this is dangerous and damaging to those of us that DO have PTSD, and ultimately, veterans in general. You can’t tell me that the day(s) following the shooting, people weren’t looking at us with a cautious eye. It was immensely irresponsible of the media to cling to the notion that BECAUSE this guy was a soldier, had been to Iraq, and had been involved in a shooting, he HAD to have PTSD and it was the root cause of this tragedy. This notion has a more profound impact on us than the media will ever admit. It perpetuates the stigma that all veterans are half-crazed time bombs, waiting to explode. PTSD was apparently some kind of illness that made veterans into villains. It puts up walls between us and our uneducated neighbors and discredits us in anything we may try to accomplish. The media establishment seems unwilling to conclude that sometimes, people are just THAT angry and limited in their thought process, that shooting people seems like a pretty good option. This shit happens in the inner-city every day and no one is slapping the mental-health dick on anyone’s forehead in those cases. No one wants to admit that sometimes, there’s no logical reason for someone to take another person’s life, no matter how much we want to try to analyze it.
This type of half-assed reporting, as was the case in the Boston bombing (where everyone was hoping and praying for a non-muslim, right-wing, white, Christian, male), and with the Christopher Dorner spree in California (also a veteran…of sorts), is rampant in our country. It seems no one is capable of reporting facts as they become apparent. Everyone is quick to throw out assumptions, no matter how asinine. In the case of the latest Fort Hood shooting, it blacked the eye of the veteran community and set us back. I’m not really even blaming the shooter as much as I’m blaming the various news outlets for being so quick to jump to those kinds of conclusions.
And now that their hypothesis’ have been debunked, where is the apology? Where is the acknowledgement that they screwed the pooch? It’s another 10-second blurb to be ran over as quickly as possible, as not to bring too much attention to the screw up.
Regardless, the stain has been set. It’s up to us to correct our news outlets and question their motives. It’s well known that the Iraq war is as unpopular as the pimple-faced, fat kid at the 8th grade dance. However, slapping a cursed label on every vet that served in that conflict is negligent and detrimental to OUR efforts as a community and the media needs to wake up to the fact. As veterans, and the OAFNation, we need to establish ourselves to the civilian populace as the exact opposite of the likes of Ivan Lopez.