Recent Standoff Involving Veteran

A tragic standoff with police and death of the barricaded individual occurred a few days ago in North Carolina. More details were released in a Fayetteville Observer article, today.

A few things stand out in the article:

  • The veteran who barricaded himself and shot at police, Kevin Battaglia, was described as a "good soldier who lost his way after he left the Army" and that "his demons were catching up to him."
  • He was apparently diagnosed with PTSD and was frustrated by his experience with the VA Hospital.
  • "He turned to an extreme grasp of faith to where that was the only thing he was concerned with."
  • Photographs he posted showed "a Bible on top of a bulletproof vest and an American flag draped on the rifle."

Was Kevin Battaglia suffering from moral injury in addition to or rather than PTSD? They have overlapping symptoms, and his turn to religion may have been an attempt to deal with any moral injury components.

The photos highlight a concerning trend -- the militarization and patriotism/nationalism-alignment of religion that we sometimes see. We are quick to notice when it happens in non-Christian religions, but do we recognize this in Christian expressions of religion?

Regardless, a "good soldier," (ie, I imagine a good person, who was also described as intelligent) suffered mental anguish and eventually died a tragic death that appears to have had components of suicide-by-cop. Our soldiers--our family members and friends--are being wounded by their experiences of war. Sometimes these wounds are invisible, but terribly deep and exacting.

Can we work toward peace? Can we do more to help veterans when they return?

One of his friends is mentioned as having reached out to Kevin recently. His friend also regrets not having done more. We thank him for reaching out to Kevin, and our hearts go out to him and all the friends and family who are now left with wounds of their own to heal.


Why YOU Shouldn't Join the Military

3/3/2015: I'm often asked by people,"What are good reasons for not joining the Army/Navy/Air Force/etc.?" Or I'm told the corollary, "My friend/recruiter says the Army/Navy/Air Force/etc. can do ... for me." I recently picked up and reviewed a booklet which Quaker House has in its library. That book is 10 Excellent Reasons Not To Join The Military  edited by Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg, published in 2006 by The New Press. It looks to still be available for $10 plus some p&h. There is a moving intro by Cindy Sheehan who you might remember as a pacifist mom who's son Casey dropped out of college to "serve his country". Casey died in Iqaq in April of 2004. Anyway, the list compiled by Weill-Greenberg, et al, bears repeating:

  1. YOU MAY BE KILLED   No on ever joins thinking they will die. Almost 6,000 unifromed service members have died in Iraq/Afghanistan.
  2. YOU MAY KILL OTHERS   No youthful recruit can forsee being ordered to fire on civilians or others unarmed. But those orders are given. Over 200,000 civilians have died in Iraq--collateral casulties.
  3. YOU MAY BE INJURED   Right up to the minute a soldier sees he/she is missing a limb, they think, "It can't happen to me." They have to cope with the new reality, and the VA, for the rest of their life.
  4. YOU MAY NOT RECEIVE PROPER MEDICAL CARE   Vietnam vets are still fighting with an overwhelmed VA for agent orange and PTSD treatment.
  5. YOUR HEALTH MAY BE DAMAGED LONG-TERM   In Iraq, the Army blew up captured weapons. Soldiers and sailors were deliberately exposed to nuclear explosions. Agent Orange. Anthrax vaccines. PTSD. TBI.
  6. YOU MAY BE LIED TO    Perhaps this could be rephrased to, "You will be lied to." Quaker House talks to people daily who insist that they were told lies by recruiters. Enlisting is at your peril. Period.
  7. YOU MAY FACE DISCRIMINATION   If you are a woman, be prepared to deal with sexist attitudes much worse than in civilian life. In fact, you face double the chance of sexual assault.
  8. YOU MIGHT BE ORDERED TO VIOLATE YOUR MORAL CODE   In fact, Moral Injury is a leading cause of depression and suicides among service members and vets.
  9. LEAVING THE MILITARY IS NOT EASY   Very unpopular stop loss measures have recently been reinstituted. Some have been forced into extra years of service because the military thinks it needs them.
  10. YOU CAN DO OTHER THINGS TO SERVE   Most never join the military. Some very successful people have done it w/o serving. There are plenty of jobs in the not for profit sector if you want to serve humanity.

      I do recommend this 4.5 x 6.5 booklet. It makes strong points for each of the ten reasons. Each section is written by a different author ranging in professions from journalist to mother to veteran.

      Stephen Newsom

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