Tuesday, June 25, 2013

SEAL sniper Chris Kyle murdered by fellow veteran

Here's a link to a good piece in the New Yorker on the murder of former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, author of American Sniper.

"For all the moral complexity of combat, coming home is often a more distressing and disorienting experience. The transition from battle zones and M.R.E.s to parking lots and fast food can unsettle even the most well-adjusted veterans. In a 2008 study, the rand Corporation estimated that P.T.S.D. affected fourteen per cent of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Symptoms of the disorder range from minor insomnia to debilitating flashbacks, and studies of veterans suggest that the likelihood of developing P.T.S.D. increases with each combat deployment."

"The quality of care varies from one V.A. facility to the next. In 2004, the V.A. Inspector General called the Dallas facility the worst in the nation; last year, a Dallas TV station interviewed veterans who alleged that the facility was so poor that it put “lives at risk.” The V.A. tends to be slow, taking an average of nine months to determine if it will cover a veteran’s health claim. And getting a claim approved can be even more difficult if symptoms are not observed at a veteran’s exit physical. Yet P.T.S.D.’s symptoms may not emerge for a while, and they are often accompanied by a cascade of other health problems. Chiarelli, the former vice-chief of the Army, told me that doctors should be “given more latitude” in assessing combat veterans, adding, “But there’s where you get into cost issues.” The V.A. is a sclerotic and overwhelmed bureaucracy; it barely has the resources to maintain its current level of health coverage, let alone expand it."

Depressing story, all around. The "hero" himself was certainly flawed and the "villain" is plainly psychiatrically disturbed. Some more details on Eddie Ray Routh's pre-killings mental health treatment here. I wouldn't be so quick to blame the VA system. It would be an outrage if former Marine Routh is convicted of first-degree murder.

Here is a must-read take on the story which extensively quotes Edna Foa, promulgator (I wouldn't go so far as to say, "inventor") of prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD.

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