I heard the news Friday afternoon – a man opened fire in the Ft. Lauderdale airport, leaving several wounded and several killed.
When situations like this happen the first collective reaction is usually suspected terrorism. But once the media began to report more information about the suspect, my heart began to sink.
It was then reported he was a veteran who served a ten-month deployment to Iraq in 2011 with the Puerto Rico National Guard. According to the LA Times, he began to suffer from mental issues when he got back from Iraq. He willingly sought treatment but struggled to gain access to Puerto Rico’s apparently under-resourced VA hospital, so he moved to Alaska to seek better services.
Today, I don’t want to start pointing fingers at anyone as to how this happened. I want to express my deepest condolences to the victims and their family members of this horrible and frightening incident. Our hearts go out to you.
Right now, I think it is very important to recognize something we’ve mentioned in the past. Similar to the veteran who inexplicably shot and killed Chris Kyle, this type of situation is the exception, not the norm.
The false narrative of the troubled veteran cannot stigmatize others who need mental health treatment for issues associated with their service. It is rare for these extreme reactions to take place for veterans experiencing mental difficulty associated with combat.
And for veterans who are still suffering from psychological wounds, please don’t let this tragic incident deter you from seeking help. It can truly make a difference in your life and your overall wellbeing.
We express our sorrow for all those affected by this terrible shooting. Our hearts are with you.