Michael's Dispatches

Chris Kyle, Navy SEAL Murdered: Some Thoughts



04 February 2013

News of Chris Kyle’s shooting has reached around the world.  Many people are asking for my thoughts, and so this morning I write these words in response.

Chris was credited with killing about 160 enemy combatants in Iraq. He is called the most deadly sniper in US history.  Obviously this will not sit well with many people, while others will see it differently.

It is unseemly to politicize this today, and I will drop it there.

Chris was known for helping folks suffering from PTSD.  I have enjoyed hearing Chris talk at times (not to me personally but interviews) and I am sure that he would frown on people blaming such acts on PTSD.

Reckless speculation hurts our veterans.

It is also unseemly to immediately speculate that PTSD was the cause of the shootings. This reflexive labeling unfolds every time vets are involved.

Just an hour after it was learned that a US Soldier was the likely murderer of 17 people in Panjwai, Afghanistan, many people were clamoring that he had PTSD.  His name had not yet been revealed.  We knew almost nothing about him.

His experiences were not yet public, yet he was already labeled with PTSD, despite that experts know that PTSD does not lead to mass murder.

The American public in general is so ignorant about PTSD that reading popular commentary is like consulting people living under bridges for financial advice.

In Panjwai, since Afghans were killed and not Americans, many people thought that this still nameless Soldier (Robert Bales) was innocent due to PTSD. “Poor guy just snapped and killed the savages.  He deserves our sympathy.”

Just as PTSD is not a cause of mass murder, it is not an excuse for criminality.

Until recently in Korea, drunkenness was a bona fide defense in rape cases, and people used it.  Any excuse we leave on the table will be misused by some.  That is human.

Where PTSD honestly can be a defense is in rare cases such as, say, police slam down the wrong door, and rush into a home and get flat-blasted by someone who did not realize they are cops.  No PTSD would be needed for that response.  Many people would do that out of fear and self-preservation.

Conversely, if Robert Bales (the accused Panjwai murderer) had killed Americans in Boston, many would have said he is guilty because he has PTSD, despite that practically none of these self-appointed experts have any idea what PTSD really is.

If he killed Americans, we would say, “That worthless, cowardly, bastard.  He deserves the rope.” 

When an Afghan soldier who saw years of fighting commits an insider attack, we say, “That cowardly, worthless filth is not even human.  We should feed him to the dogs.”  We usually call them cowards, despite that they may have fought for years.

When Anders Behring Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway, it was not because of military service.  The man is various species of sick.  His mental conditions might lead to the causes, but not to excuses.  He is still a murderer.

In popular commentary, PTSD can make someone innocent or guilty, depending on whether we like the victims or the perpetrator more.

The enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan were never labeled with PTSD because we could not care less that they are human, too.  They are just savages.  If the savage is afraid after seeing years of combat, he is coward, while if our folks exhibit the same symptoms, they are considered wounded heroes or ticking bombs, depending on whether or not we like vets.

Iraq and Afghanistan are awash with people suffering from PTSD.  This will damage some of their families for generations.  But if they shoot our people, we will not afford the dignity of saying they suffer, or are fighting to be their version of free.  Their label is Muslim.

I knew a Green Beret who murdered his wife and committed suicide.  He told me long in advance that he would kill her if he ever caught her fooling around.  He caught her and shot her.  These days, we would say he had PTSD, when the fact was that he had anger issues.  Everyone who knew him could see it.

He had not been to war.  He was simmering.  I got along great with him.  He was very smart, with a PhD in entomology.  He was fun to talk with, but you could sense something was off.  Turns out, he was a murderer.

PTSD surely is real.  The price for even a small war reverberates through generations.  An absent or diminished parent creates conditions for children with fewer prospects, which vibrate up the family tree.

The results of war literally echo through generations.

There is no doubt that some children born fifty years from now will suffer from the echoes of our wars.  They might not understand that the reason their parents did not attend university was because their grandfather suffered severe PTSD from war, and uprooted the tree.  We can never calculate for that damage.

When we send our young people to war, we send many of their great-great grandchildren along for the ride.  The entire society suffers for decades from every war.

PTSD often leads to family destruction, but seldom to violence. Yet this speculation is like seeing a shooting in the news and blaming it on polio. "Yep, another shooting. Must be that polio again.  Is he a vet?  Yes?  That means it’s polio."

Many employers will not hire vets if they think they are apt to "snap.”

Most of the mass-killers never were in the military.  Columbine was an example. The murderers were high school students.

More likely, the killings derived from simple anger or uncontrolled rage, or crime of some sort.

Prescribed drugs are becoming suspect, but this idea cannot be taken too far because mass killings happen around the globe, and many occurred long before modern pharmaceuticals were widespread. Something is there, but it cannot be the whole story.

We look for something to blame.  Guns.  Drugs.  PTSD.  Video games. Culture. Sociopaths. Hollywood.  Media.  Vets.  Religion.

When we blame religion, we blame the other religion, while atheists blame all religions.

Murder in the name of religion happens many times per day, without end.  But if someone from our religion commits a despicable act, we call him a nutter and change the topic.

Some people are just bad.  They are perfectly sane and will kill us for a wristwatch, for sport, or because they wanted some excitement. 

Culture plays a crucial roll.  Many Afghans will torture dogs for entertainment, which I would not doubt has led to some “accidental” killings of Afghans by our folks. 

If one of our young Soldiers shot an Afghan who was torturing a dog, the Afghans surely would label him a murderer and want revenge.  Many dog lovers and Americans in general would give a standing ovation, and say, “Ah, he has PTSD.  Just let this one slide.  Savage dog killers.”

But that would likely not be the case.  The trooper killed him because he was torturing a dog.  This is simple.  Nobody needs a PhD to see it.  He was not insane, just enraged.

Our troops become enraged when they see dogs tortured, and if an American trooper tortured a dog, he would be labeled a sociopath and tossed into jail, after pulling some boots out of his backside.

If one of our Soldiers were to have sex with an Afghan woman, many Afghans would kill her, and try to kill him.  We would call that murder.  For them it is house cleaning.  They are not crazy.  That is their world.

That Chris is “credited” with killing about 160 humans using a rifle, one by one, is seen by many people as mass murder of historical proportion.

Others applaud it, saying that he saved lives, which is countered by people saying the war was unjust and illegal.

Some of this derives from culture clash.  In Thailand, the idea of Americans widely applauding killing 160 people is shocking.  Chris was a minor-celebrity in America.  Many British are livid.

Other Americans say Chris’s death is karma.  The enemies in Iraq put a bounty on him just as we put bounties on some of them.

A salient point is that cultures and worldviews vary dramatically, and some people will commit acts that we consider barbaric, which in their culture is normal.

The United States is a cultural kaleidoscope.  This makes it even more difficult to divine the actions of others.

Take a subset of people who live in Charleston, South Carolina, and compare them to a similar subset in Boston, and another in San Francisco, and another in Berlin, who share the same race, religion, education, and social status, and you will find that they have remarkably different cultures and worldviews.

Combat units have their own subcultures.  Special operations units have strong subcultures that are invisible to the outside world.

Some people grow up on the streets or with gangs and have fundamentally different views that were not solidified into what we call “civilized.”

Some personalities are shaky and horribly imperfect.  A few of these people end up in uniform, and we send them off to war.  Some return and commit terrible acts.

The accused vet will embrace and play up PTSD as alibi, while knitting a holy cross from the strings in his socks that he can wear around his neck when he stands before the judge.  The realty is that he was ticking before he joined, and he is simply a bad man and should be in prison.

We like cubbyholes.  The uncomfortable truth is that none of these cubbyholes work in a broad sense.

We similarly label Muslims, as if every crime committed by a Muslim is in the name of religion and jihad.  (Few Americans understand the meaning of jihad, despite these many years.)  This is silly, and using this label reveals purveyors to be untraveled, or perhaps just simpleminded.

There are robbers and murderers who happen to be Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, and Buddhists.  Name it.  It is there.

In many cases a cubbyhole might work, and there will be some basis in truth, but at some point, in a broad sense, under scrutiny, the models all break down.

Even if someone with severe PTSD kills intentionally, it does not automatically follow that PTSD was the culprit or even partly to blame.  Could be anything. Lovers' spat. Revenge.  Alcohol.  Meth.  Prescription drugs.  Clash of cultures.  Craziness of some sort.  Anything.  It could be a mixture of many things.

Importantly, most people who go to wars do not suffer PTSD. The chief cause of PTSD in the United States is traffic accidents.

Is there a pattern of murder based on car crashes?  If someone commits a violent crime, should we ask if he has been in a car crash?  Should we, in every media report, feel obligated to mention, “The accused was involved in a fatal car accident in 1983”?

Take this real title of a news report: “Former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle' Killing Puts Spotlight on PTSD”. 

We do not know enough about PTSD.   We must redouble and work to get a handle on this.  It is damaging our country, and many others.

In any case, I am taking a chance that Chris would have said something like this, and so I tried to say it for him. If his close friends or family disagree, I apologize in advance for being presumptuous.

We lost a good man.  That something good should come from this tragedy is important.  PTSD clearly was important for Chris and so in his honor, it is worthwhile to say some heartfelt words about the topic that Chris took head-on.

And another man was lost whom few people are talking about, Chad Littlefield. Many thoughts for their families.

Rest in Peace Chad Littlefield.

Rest in Peace Chris Kyle.  Mission Complete.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Leamon · 8 years ago
    Mike, Thanks for this particular paragraph: "The price for even a small war reverberates through generations. An absent or diminished parent creates conditions for children with fewer prospects, which vibrate up the family tree trunk."

    Some of us believe that this is also the cause for a lot of suicides within the military, or following military service.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter · 8 years ago
    Thanks Michael for trying to make sense out of this senseless act. What do say of war-truth is the first casualty. I would add one additional thing--better mental health screening. I think you take a mentally questionable soldier, put him in combat, and he becomes more mentally unstable. In the sad Newtown incident, the White Elephant in the room is that the shooter's mother was supplying him guns, and firearm range practicing, and then he killed his mother and so many others, and then himself.
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      Kirk Mooneyham · 8 years ago
      But do not act as if some mom in Connecticut who bought firearms that enabled her son to kill a bunch of little kids has a thing to do with the vast majority of Americans who do NOT use their firearms in anything remotely approaching such a heinous crime. I say this because your "white elephant" comment seemed to imply something...and I am real tired of hearing that something.
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    Marjorie Harris · 8 years ago
    I was shocked to read of Chris Kyle's murder. I saw him interviewed some time ago on Imus in the Morning TV show and was very impressed with him. He was a humble unassuming man. I immediately bought his book and passed it on to my son and grandsons. What a great American! He served his country well. Such a waste of a great man. My sympathy to his family and that of Chad Littlefield.
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    Chris Higgins · 8 years ago
    Nicely done and a good job of placing some perspective on PTSD. Quite frankly I never bothered to consider its effects on the people living in the war zones. My concern has been friends I've lost to suicide from a war 40 years ago, and now my son and his generation from our community at risk.
    PTSD is a convenient way to explain away horrific acts. Imagine if the Newtown shooter was a vet.

    Thank you for the reminder that Chad Littlefield and his family also belong in prayers.

    Perspective is often lost in the rush to meet journalistic deadlines
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    Mary · 8 years ago
    It is merely empty rhetoric that all cultures are the same, that Islam is the same as the Jewish faith or Christianity. It is empty rhetoric that all cultures are the same, different cultures emphasize different aspects of humanity, but some emphasize man's fallen nature. It is useful idiots of whoever is trying to conquer (i.e., the global jihad) who spread their empty rhetoric, even unknowingly. Stalin, Hitler, Khomeini (and many others) used useful idiots, but when they came to power those useful idiots were the first to be destroyed/killed.

    BTW: Domestic violence is a domination/control issue, NOT an anger-management issue.
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    Barry Cooper · 8 years ago
    Overall, this is a thoughtful piece. You are trying to walk the line between those who want to blame PTSD for everything, and those who want to pretend it is just a species of moral weakness.

    As I think most reflective people will realize, all of us are some combination of our heritage, our history--genetic and sociopsychological--and our individual wills. I think all of us are born with predispositions, which are further shaped by our decisions, which I tend to term "non-statistical coherence". By that, I mean that individual agency can disrupt otherwise dominant patterns in ways which are greatly muted in lower animals like dogs, and absent entirely in animals like insects.

    In this particular case, we need to understand that PTSD is not a single, unitary disorder, but a complex of tendencies created in a normally much more pronounced way in vulnerable individuals via combat than many other sources. Being the son of an abusive alcoholic is not fundamentally different than going through tough combat situations, but if you combine the two, the net effect will no doubt be larger.

    In my considered view, we need to increase the mental health of our nation across the board. This would include work--such as the meditation exercises the Marines have been experimenting with--that works to inoculate against the accumulation of stress. As a nation, we need to learn how to relax deeply. Virtually our entire culture works against this currently.

    Finally--and yes I grant this is a bit meandering since I am thinking out loud--I would submit that the shooter, who according to reports I read was a Marine, did also at one point in his life sign a contract to protect and defend the Constitution, with the understanding that it might cost his life.

    We don't know who he is, or what makes him tick, but we DO know that a common outcome of prolonged combat is increased issues with anger. Yes, they may be increased relative to preexisting issues with anger--combat seems to find character flaws and amplify them--but this shooting would likely not have happened had this man never signed that contract. That is speculation, but likely in my view accurate speculation.

    His life is over too. If he goes the Timothy McVeigh route, he will be executed in relatively short order. Certainly, he will be behind bars the rest of his life. I do not think it is pushing my logic too far to call him a combat casualty too, although of course I am open to further information.

    Actually, one more note: if you have not read it, I suggest you read Judith Herman's "Trauma and Recovery". It was very eye-opening to me. A case can be made that exposure to combat is not all that different than exposure to rape. It is a trauma; some people deal with it without issue, but others don't. A variety of factors affect what that outcome is, and some of them can be named and measured.
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    RogerDane · 8 years ago
    Mike you covered a "lot" of ground and, like a combatant covering ground, you will come under the 'sights' of many who disagree. Truth is a rarity today and those 'three sides' continually make a mockery of efforts.

    The one consistent 'variable' in all such shooting crimes seems to be the shooter's dissatisfaction with "some aspect" of his life AND the escalation of that psychologically (and generally unrecognized at well) to levels producing anger, hate, paranoiac violence and self-hate! As long as mankind is pliable and manipulated by his own mind's understanding of life and all the injustices of living then we will have heinous incidents that defy logic, comprehension (in the total sense) and (importantly) prevention. Like 'metal fatigue' within industrial standards, "failure" is a percentage of all creation and no laws will ever stop man's ability to become insane and no laws or efforts to "classify" will stop such behavior from producing death.

    The only issue I have with your very good efforts to help comprehend is in the line, "There is no doubt that some children born fifty years from now..." as I sincerely wonder if society will be capable of cognizant behavior by that time.
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    Kelly Calhoun · 8 years ago
    Thank you so much for this wisdom and your respect. My son was just here in Texas with us for the week-end. As a mother of a sniper...your words just speak volumes.
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    Larry · 8 years ago
    Sincerest sympathy for the Chief, his family, and extended family of warriors, RIP brother.
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    Timothy Roesch · 8 years ago
    If I had the time and money I would be investigating the persons these 'shooters' were seeing in the months before the 'event' (shooting). Either this is being caused by the treatment they are receiving or not receiving (think Thalidomide) OR someone is creating and setting loose zombies of some sort (does anyone remember that the shooter in Aurora was talking to someone on the cell phone just before we went on the rampage?). Something does not smell or feel right here. There is a cadence that bothers me. Again, it is either a problem or a conspiracy. I would be curious as to treatments, drug interactions, DBT/Therapy options (remember the McMartin Preschool interviews that almost pushed kids into believing all kinds of horrible things). Thoughts?
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      Cindy P · 8 years ago
      My thoughts exactly. Something is just not adding up. How common is this PTSD and what drugs are these soldiers being given and was the shooter on any drugs? There are still way too many questions about this and many other so called PTSD killings. THis mental illness needs much more study. And, we also need more study on the effects of the drugs on them who are taking these drugs.
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    Robert S. Pinkerton · 8 years ago
    :sad: I sent an e-mail to all my family and fellow shipsmates Saturday morning when the only report out yet was on FireWire. I believed then and still believe, that Kyle was killed for the few minutes of fame.Now Texas is going to be spending millions to keep the shooter alive long enough so we can execute him.
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    James F. McClellan · 8 years ago
    Very good essay. We're too quick to build little boxes to put culture in.
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      SomeGuy · 8 years ago
      I don't disagree with your assessment, but it's the way humans are wired. Think "Monkeysphere".

      A thought provoking article, Micheal.
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    Mary Dixon · 8 years ago
    As well trained and dedicated Chris was as a sniper, he was an excellent teacher and a kind man. He had been one of the trainers in a TV show when I learned about him. His manner and something of his real self did show enough to earn respect.
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    Kessa Eldridge · 8 years ago
    A man who served well, and his friend are gone - and I agree with your statements about PTSD being used as an excuse when it may not be the case. I'm wondering how long it will be before they start in on gun control because it happened at a firing range/gun club.
    Mental illness, a lack of morals or ethics are often behind some of the most heinous acts - be it this killing, or someone shooting up a school.
    A history of behavior may well show that before the military, the accused had signs of instability. Perhaps, as you have said, instead of pointing at war and PTSD as an excuse, they could look at how we treat mental illness in our country.

    The sadness here is - two men were trying to help out a third, and died for it.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cindy · 8 years ago
    Michael- Thank you for sharing your well-reasoned thoughts on this....
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    Scarface · 8 years ago
    R.I.P Brother!
    May God have mercy upon your soul!
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    Michael Eyles · 8 years ago
    I don't believe it's natural for man to go to war, a man must be trained to fight. Whether it's called shell shock, battle fatigue, or PTSD, all warriors come home to face a reajustment to civil life, for some it's much harder. My experience with family and friends who came home from war is they try to put combat behind them and live their lives to the fullest.
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    karen · 8 years ago
    well done, thank u. may GOD bless u and your work
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    Laird · 8 years ago
    "In popular commentary, PTSD can make someone innocent or guilty, depending on whether we like the victims or the perpetrator more."

    A more accurate summary of human bias, you could not make. Substitute whatever condition, creed, race, or nationality for "PTSD" and it would read every bit as accurately.

    Thank you for reminding me that our enemies are human too - I've been every bit as guilty of bias as others. Our enemies have hopes, dreams, failings, vices, and virtues all their own. That doesn't make them any less our enemy, but it does make them as human as me.

    I think Chris Kyle understood this at an instinctive level. He died doing something that returns real, measurable good to his fellows and his community. I'll try to keep that in mind every time his name comes up.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    karen · 8 years ago
    God bless you and your support for our men/women putting themselves on the line and standing watch for us. :-)
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    ASG · 8 years ago
    Yet another beautiful example of why Michael Yon is probably the only truely impartial journalist of our time.
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    Trisha Barton · 8 years ago
    Once again you so eloquently stated things that needed to be said about this tragedy. We can't assume anything in any of these cases of murder. All we can do is try to help those we see who are "crazy" in whatever way we can, to try to prevent these things from happening in the first place. Our society is so laden with violence in movies, video games, etc. it's no wonder our youth are filled with violent tendencies.... and that's only the tip of the iceberg.

    Thanks Michael, for your comments on Chad. I feel we haven't said enough about him in all this.

    God bless you and God bless America!
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    mesocyclone · 8 years ago
    Michael, thanks for this posting. Vietnam Veterans suffered from this same stigma, even more-so. Once we had been exonerated in the common culture from baby-killers (don't tell Kerry), we had to be victims, so PTSD became the new definition. Burkett's book described the resulting problems of VVets being denied jobs, etc as a result. We don't need to repeat this with our more modern heroes.
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    Russell Schroeder · 8 years ago
    :sad: I just found out from my brother that Chris Kyle is his wife's cousin. I am profoundly sorry for his family. And I thank Kyle for his outstanding service to his country. And his fellow Vet's. My heart also goes out to the family of Chad Littlefield. I only met Chris once. When he was young. He was a very caring person. I hope the shooter gets what he deserves. I know nothing about him so I can not speculate on his reasons for doing what he did. I can't help but feel it has a lot to do with our American culture. And the loss of self respect that is drilled into our youth by our society. Taking God out of school and public life has in part lead us down this path. Telling our kids we are nothing more than glorified pond scum and that self interests are more important than anything else. What can we expect??? Sorry for rambling, but I am tired of watching America come apart at the seams. We need to teach personal responsibility and self respect to our children. Not everything is someone else's fault. If this man who shot them is mentally ill thats one thing. If not he should get the his full measure! In this life. if not he will still have to face his maker, may God have mercy on hiim. May God have Mercy on the family's of the fallen. Bless them abundantly.
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    Kurt Olney · 8 years ago
    Ten commandments translated from the Hebrew--the commandment thou shall not kill, actually translates into thou shall not murder. There is a time for killing. David and Goliath. And then there is murder--Cane and Able. Evil is endemic to the human race. Not sure what the function is evil is. Think of all the plays, and stories, novels that have been written on the subject.
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      Yanshuf · 8 years ago
      אל תרצח
      Thou shal not murder.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Timothy Roesch · 8 years ago
        Actually, it is Thou shall not MURDER. The word, in Hebrew refers to killing those who are not considered those to be killed (guests, family, noncombatabts, etc). I don't think G-D got pissed at the Israelites because they killed others.
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    Diane Martinez · 8 years ago
    Michael: Thank you for the clear explanation of PTSD as well as how
    we tend to label people depending on our views. I appreciate your clarity.
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    Paul Garner · 8 years ago
    You said it all, very eloquently and with feeling. Thank you.
    Please remember CWO Alan W Gunn, co-pilot of DUSTOFF 90, a Medevac flight from Banh Me Thout to Gai Nghai Special Forces Camp, Vietnam. They went MISSING IN ACTION on 12 Feb 1968. Dustoff 90 is the only Dustoff Medevac flight never to return. You are still missed cousin.

    Paul Garner, TSgt, USAF (Retired)
    Vietnam 1967-1968
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    Pete Flynn · 8 years ago
    as someone who served his country and sacrificed a bit of himself for me. I might not have been his friend, but I wish I was. He was surely a good man.
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    neil newcomb · 8 years ago
    ptsd wasn't mentioned @ the okland army terminal on valentine's day, 1968. We just processed out, listened impatiently to the guy from the v.a. make promises that've largely been broken...and a chaplain who warned us about how changed we'd become...not to mention everybody else. I've found that Mike's right: the ptsd label gets pulled out @ random by whoever wants to fit it into some particular blame scheme that fits their factual version of somebody's troubles. For most of us who found ourselves in one part or another of Vietnam, ptsd has been just another part of the afterlife of Vietnam. My experiences have been weird, horrifying, funny, startling...leaving me resigned, aggravated, smiling, briefly confused and relieved that time has dimmed that very abnormal existence in the Mekong Delta. Not to mention grateful, at times overwhelmingly so, for the Grace extended to me by my Creator. And most of the people I know who fought in that war have managed to carve out a pretty normal life for themselves after that hellhole. It all became just another part of who we are. We've made choices, lived with and by them. But there are some, and I've known a few, who are hopelessly crippled by some peculiar lunacy that kind of hangs-around in their very heart...and lunges out from time-to-time and hurts themselves and those around them. Some get overcome by it and just go bad. I suspect that most fight it off, every day of their lives. I'm forever grateful and a bit guilty that whatever happened, didn't happen to me.
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      Trisha Barton · 8 years ago
      Thank you for your service. I had many friends who went to Nam. It was a sad time for me, and still is, to see how some of them came back and to know some didn't. There hasn't been enough consideration paid to those war vets. My prayers go out to you and each and every vet of that war and all the other wars we have fought. And to all servicemen and women who are in the service today... my sincerest thanks and well-wishes for you and your families and friends. God bless you.
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      Grateful_American · 8 years ago
      Neil, Thank you, sir, for your service to this country and for protecting my freedom. I was born in '69 so only heard/remember stories of Vietnam after it had ended. It always saddened me that our vets were not treated as the American heros that you are. As my original post says, I just finished reading an excellent book by Lt. Col Dave Grossman entitled, "On Killing". He has 24 yrs of service and was a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne. One statistic he cited was that between 400,000 (VA Admin) and 1,500,000 Vietnam vets suffer from PTSD. And on pg 29 he says, "Societies that ask men to fight on their behalf should be aware of what the consequences and what the price of their actions may so easily be." I offer this in the hopes that you will read this book and it will be of benefit to you and one of your brothers in arms. Again, Thank you for your service! You are a great American!
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    Grateful_American · 8 years ago
    First of all, my condolences go to the family and friends of Chris Kyle. Second, my deepest appreciation and respect go out to all of those who have served this great country and protected our freedoms - past and present. Thank you and God Bless You. As noted in the article, PTSD is often blamed and rarely understood. I recently read a book by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman that sheds incredible light and understanding on this very subject. My interpretation is as follows: People suffer PTSD when they experience a traumatic event caused by another person. This is because there is a very strong resistance to killing a fellow human being. It's a kind of survival instinct for the human species so when one human kills another, the one who did the killing can't process it. Additionally, the closer the killer is to the victim, the harder it is to deal with. So for example, the incidence of PTSD is lower for a sniper who uses a scope to increase the physical and emotional distance from the enemy or victim, than infantrymen who kill with bayonets, while it is greater than the incidence rate for bomber pilots. The reason being the killer can't deny that they killed another human being. The book explains it better. One other very important topic that the book points out is that the violent video games that (1) are played with guns as the controller instead of joysticks or keyboards and (2) depict very graphic and life-like killing such as with blood splatter are very similar to the techniques used to train our soldiers on how to overcome their natural and strong resistance to killing another human being. Given the in-depth analysis proving the effectiveness of these techniques have improved the firing rate of our soldiers, i.e., the number of soldiers who actually shoot at the enemy (from 15-20% in W.W.II to 85-90% in Vietnam), I am convinced that the video games played by our youth are contributing significantly to the increase in violence committed by the youth in our country today. There is also a section that sheds light on why so many Vietnam vets suffer from PTSD. Finally, to our Vietnam vets: You are American heroes. You have my utmost respect and you deserved a hero's welcome when you returned home. You did what your country called on you to do in incredibly difficult situations. You are great Americans. God bless you and God Bless America.
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    Deidre · 8 years ago
    Just finished watching an interview with Chris Kyle on C-Span's book review (not sure when it was taped). What a humble, dear man we have lost to the wickedness in a man's soul which made him become a murderer. Though Chris's family will most likely not read your tribute, Michael, or our comments, I'd like to extend my sincere condolences to them and say that though I did not know him personally, I will miss him. May you all find comfort in the loving arms of Jesus. God bless you all.
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    warthog · 8 years ago
    Superb write up and thank you . You have no idea what this meant to me along with thousands of other veterens who of rescent been labled by the msm as if were all crazy war vets that dont deserve the rights we died, bled, and fought tooth and nail for thank you
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    Yanshuf · 8 years ago
    I have been diagnosed with PTSD.
    My therapist sometimes my tells me to go out and relax at the range with my FAL.

    Michael your commentary is insightful and oh so true.

    May god bless all involved.
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      Laird · 8 years ago
      Done properly, shooting can be an act of zen meditation. You must be totally 'in the moment,' excluding all external distraction and paying strict attention to each step to shoot at your absolute finest. Zen meditation is one of the finest stress-reducing activities you can undertake.

      I find that range time always leaves me feeling more clear, more centered.
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    Nancy · 8 years ago
    If you are believing Chris Kyle was killed due to PTSD, you are sadly mistaken. ...evil lurks...and it starts at the 'top'...
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    Pat · 8 years ago
    Chris Kyle lived in the Dallas area as I do. From our local news reports the shooter had twice been in mental hospitals the last 4 months. He had threatened to kill his father who wanted to take his gun away. His mother admitted that he had PTSD. He told his sister that he "sold his soul for a truck (Chris's)" and was trying to get flee to Oklahoma. So far nothing has come out about his military record except being in the Marine reserve.

    RIP Kyle and Chad. We salute you.
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    Anni Golden · 8 years ago
    SOP when the alarm chimes is your good friend lunging from bed, rolling to the floor, then jumping up in confusion. He's not self conscious. I've seen it before.
    It's been years since Vietnam. It's still today for us.
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    Dee Karl · 8 years ago
    Hello Fellow Members,

    In an interview Chris once mentioned how damaged his hearing was (and so was mine so I could relate) This sent me exploring possible solutions.

    I'm new to the Forum and I thought I'd share a discovery that might help my military family. I've suffered from hearing loss and I found a product called "The Hearing Pill". At first I was very skeptical wondering if a pill could help my hearing. Well my doctor and I did some investigation and it turns out this product was developed and patented by the US NAVY. I guess the NAVY/DoD is spending like $100,000 an hour every hour of EVERY DAY treating hearing loss. So the NAVY, ARMY and DoD has spent millions of dollars developing this product. So I bought a three month supply just to try it out. It really helped me and it also helped my ringing in my ears which was a bonus.

    Anyway I hope this information is helpful for someone. You can find these guys at www.thehearingpill.com. (I found if you order the three month supply you save 41% and you get free shipping- not sure if this was a limited time deal but I thought I'd mention it.)...
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    Guest · 8 years ago
    The best way I have to honor the man is to share my experience with PTSD. Your statement, "The chief cause of PTSD in the United States is traffic accidents" was right on target. At 16 I was involved in a head-on collision at 70 mph in the right front seat. For at least the first year post accident, my heart would freeze in panic and I'd brace for impact at oncoming headlights. Everyone, thought I was "overreacting" and there was no way anyone was going to understand if I spoke out about my fear. Eventually, I discovered the best way was to get behind the wheel. I have been had a commercial drivers license for 20 years now. The last five my employer has been the U.S. Department of State. Job Title: Chauffeur. Thanks Mike for provinding a space where people will understand. v/r John R Humbard, Jr.
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    Guest · 8 years ago
    Since time began and Cain killed his brother Able and when questioned by God, Cain responded "Am I my brother's keeper"? Unless we have a spiritual anchor we are adrift and capable of unlimited evil. The bible, God'word, states "man's heart is desperately wicked who can know it?" No anchor no limit.

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    Muoi · 2 years ago
    Awesome article.

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    Caren · 2 years ago
    You made some good points there. I looked on the net to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.

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