View Full Version : The Death of a US Navy SEAL and PTSD

4th Feb 2013, 16:26
I was doing some reading about the death/murder of US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. He was also the author of the book 'American Sniper' which I got a chance to read and thoroughly enjoyed.

Since Chris's death Saturday afternoon at a firing range in the state of Texas the suspect in the double homicide (a friend of Kyle's was also shot dead) has been apprehended. He is a former US Marine who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan - numerous times.

Seems Chris Kyle was helping the shooter with PTSD after requested by the shooter's mother.

Which got me thinking about PTSD. With all the veterans returning from the battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan - some who have served 2, 3 or 4 tours of 18 months - I think the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration really need to get more involved with this nasty mind disease. Failing that, I think we're going to be seeing a lot more of the effects PTSD has on our military people returning from war.

(This is obviously NOT an American-only phenomena and applies equally to ALL military members having served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan from involved countries.)

4th Feb 2013, 16:34
Quite right.
But in the UK at least, the politicians just make sympathetic noises, urge the MoD to improve conditions, then cut the MoD budget, start ever more pointless wars, prosecute soldiers for 'violations' of impossible ROE, and increase tours of duty.

We might see some action if a few PTSD victims start shooting politicians, but I doubt we'll see anything other than the same routine otherwise.

4th Feb 2013, 16:55

Is it the same in Canada then? With Canadian troops returning?

4th Feb 2013, 16:58
I saw Nam vets with the same condition back in the early 70s in Oz rgb, even though I
was a kid of 14 at the time.

I've never fired a shot in anger during war so I can't comment, but what some of those
diggers witnessed and endured defies imagination as you'd well understand. Only one
vet, who was a family neighbour back in Adelaide, opened up and told me many years
later the shit he saw in those 2 years and the crap he endured. And he was a bloody
tough bugger mate. After he returned he wasn't the same - I dunno - like his soul was
torn out of his guts. Quiet, reserved, doleful.......and remained that way 25 odd years
later when I spoke to him after he found out I was flying in Nam. I don't think he ever
got married. He didn't officially suffer PTSD - but according to his sister he never really
smiled again.

Some of the things Mike spoke of I won't repeat here, but I remember thanking f*ck I
was born too late and was spared conscription. But I can say PTSD is real and no one
can tell who will cop it. I agree its about time something was done.

4th Feb 2013, 17:01
It seems to be somewhat better, but the Government has just cut the suicide prevention budget and recently moved to lump sum payments rather than continual support, which is estimated by many vets to be worth about half of what they would have got under the old system.
I'm new to Canada, so I'll let one of the natives comment further.

4th Feb 2013, 17:01

It took me quite a few years to set aside my abject terror every time I heard a military chopper overhead. On occasion the sound of such would cause me to um, shall we say, hit the dirt?

Although that's past now I still get butterflies in my gut every time I see a CH47 (Chinook) helo. Even today.

And I was only in the shit for a few days. Can't imagine what it would be like for a year or more. (Well, I can imagine it but I would prefer not to.)

4th Feb 2013, 17:17
This song was popular during the early 80s in Oz rgb.

It doesn't come close to what Mike related but that
abject terror of choppers was certainly universal....


4th Feb 2013, 17:55
Slash - very moving post back there mate.

My godfather, Uncle Jim, had what he used to call his 'funny turns'. I was just a kid. I didn't know that every so often his mind would take him back to the rear turret of the Lancasters in WW2 that he did 57, yes 57, raids in.

It was only after he had died that I learnt what he had done and it is only in the last few years that I have realised he was suffering from PTSD. His story, and those of Mike, rgbrock and many more make me feel so humble and lucky that, despite a spell in the funny farm, I haven't come anywhere close to enduring the same.

I doff my hat to them all.

4th Feb 2013, 18:15

Although not 100% certain several family members, as well as myself, always felt that my father suffered from PTSD.

He was a US Marine during the Korean war as part of 1st Recon company. (That and the 2nd Recon Company were the precursors of Force Recon.) Although he very rarely talked about his time in Korea whenever he was asked about it he always said "I saw a lot of shit." And that was it.

Regardless, my father (now deceased) for as long as I knew him ALWAYS had the proverbial thousand yard stare. Which I know all too well.

4th Feb 2013, 18:35

Re your comment on helos and reaction to them by vets,
someone on PP said a short while ago about a Huey that
did a pass over - I think - a Texas town. He said that a
comment was made not to do it again as the noise meant
all the hospitals filled up.

Hats off to all.

4th Feb 2013, 18:43

similar in vein to yours: The Mrs. and I live in a very, very small town in CT. (Population of 1,000 or so spread over an area of about 25 square miles.) The local fish wrap (newspaper) every year around the 4th of July asks the residents of our town to check with their neighbors, some of whom are veterans of Iraq and/or Afghanistan, to make sure they won't be driven to lunacy by the eruption of fireworks.

This was brought about by one vet of Iraq who was carted off to the area VA hospital after having to literally suffer through a barrage of M80 fireworks.

4th Feb 2013, 19:41
The alleged shooter was known to be a bit loopy with PTSD, so, as one does, he was handed a loaded gun. Yup! What could possibly go wrong with that idea?

Read Decline and Fall, by Evelyn Waugh. Its antihero lands in prison.
There, a murderer is assigned to the woodworking shop as a way of rehabilitating him, but he saws off the vicar's head instead. Who could have seen that coming?

That makes this tragedy "life imitating art," I guess.

That Newtown shooting saw the mother, an avid shooter, not keeping her weirdo son away from her arsenal, with sadly predictable results, and now this!

I have nothing against people who are a bit loopy. I remember a Viet Nam vet friend I visited who had a loaded AR-15 there in the bedroom propped against the wall, while he wanted me to go along to buy some Boy Scout badges to sew to his old fatigues "to show what the Army really was like." Back then (1969), though, we really didn't take this "Keep guns away from unbalanced people" quite so seriously, so that I just took care to sit between him and the rifle while I was visiting, and, of course I did go along to help him buy the badges.

I didn't keep in close touch with him, so I don't know how things worked out. I was just back from the Army myself, so that I had my own issues to sort out.

I suppose that this shooting came from some sort of misguided attempt to show trust in the alleged killer, but that would be sort of like standing on the subway platform in front of the guy who's talking to himself, just to show him that you don't think he's whacky. BS to that!

4th Feb 2013, 23:44
My Dad was in France in 1940 when the Germans moved in. It took him weeks to travel from Reims to Brest, and he went through some very nasty stuff. I found his diary years after he died - it was very perfunctory and matter of fact. When he was alive, though, talking about his experiences would last no more than 90 seconds at a time. I still remember his shouts in the middle of the night, when, as a kid, his nightmares would wake me up.

5th Feb 2013, 00:36
It's certainly not new. The third book in James Jones' "From Here to Eternity" trilogy, 'Whistle', is almost entirely associated with PTSD, although it wasn't called that at the time. I'm currently reading a very interesting book, "Surviving the Sword, Prisoners of the Japanese 1942-45" by Brian MacArthur. It's distressing how many times he mentions men who had the incredible stamina to survive captivity only to commit suicide within a year or two of being repatriated.

I can't quote a figure or confirm this, but I've read somewhere that the Australians who served in Vietnam have suffered more deaths by suicide in the years since than were killed in Vietnam. If my own father is anything to go by, I can well believe that. After what could only be called a very active war, he didn't kill himself, but I don't believe he ever really 'came home' in his head.

Anyone (in Oz at least) interested in reading how hard it was for the Vietnam blokes after returning home, get your hands on a copy of "Well Done Those Men" by Barry Heard.

5th Feb 2013, 01:04
A few months ago, my Cousin and I were talking about his Father, and how fearsome a temper the Man had. Cuz told me about one afternoon when his Father lost control of his Temper and began beating his youngest Son for some infraction. It was a beating that prompted my Cuz to seek help from his Mother.

Many years later Uncle Bob sat the boys down and apologized to them for his past actions and told them he really regretted the physical beatings he had given them.

The Man had gone MIA for two weeks during the Battle of the Bulge when his Tank Destroyer unit got over run when they ran out of ammunition. Uncle Bob evaded capture and finally fetched up in a small Belgian town called Bastogne having passed through German lines three times. The only thing he had to eat the whole time was some frozen turnips.

He told me the full story once....and only did so when I asked him why he was taking a sandwich along on a two...three hour trip. When I asked him that....and he realized he did have a sandwich.....he told me the story.

After that two weeks....he said he swore he would never go hungry ever again.

Uncle Bob had PTSD....bad. He was a good man, a good father, and I idolized him. He dealt with some real Demons as a result of his experiences during WWII.

You do not experience those kinds of things and come away unscathed....and sometimes it is years later that things start stacking up on you. I see it amongst many of my friends in varying degrees. I have found myself on the floor a time or two after some sort of nightmare...funny how they come back at certain times of the year. Either that or it is after a large Anchovie Pizza maybe!

5th Feb 2013, 12:58
7x7 wrote:

I can't quote a figure or confirm this, but I've read somewhere that the Australians who served in Vietnam have suffered more deaths by suicide in the years since than were killed in Vietnam.Statistics released yesterday by the US Department of Defense (I believe it was them) shows that last year in the US Army there were 177 suicides committed by active-duty soldiers. That statistic is through Nov 2012 and does NOT include suicides by US Army reservists.

In all of 2012 176 active duty soldiers were killed in action during 'Operation Enduring Freedom' in Afghanistan.

Thus, last year more soldiers killed themselves than lost their lives in combat.

Truly, the enemy within.

5th Feb 2013, 13:00
You should not take someone with PTSD out to a shooting range!

You might as well buy an alcoholic a new car to make him feel better about himself, and hope that makes him stop drinking. Then what? He runs down a group of school children and you say, "Who could have guessed that would happen?"

There's something about being a total enthusiast about something, whether that is guns, cars, aircraft or whatever, that can blind us to the notion that these things are dangerous and that they should be kept out of the hands of those who do not have both oars in the water.

This Second Amendment BS... It's a matter of interpretation, certainly, but the way it reads is "A well regulated Militia..." first, and "...the right of the people to keep and bear arms..." second, and both together in one amendment. My interpretation of that is that both these things go together, the way the amendment is written, so that if you really want to go play with serious weaponry you should join the National Guard. Then you can use an M4 with full-automatic function... no fiddle-faddling around with a Bushmaster!

The catch? You need to be in a "well regulated militia." I understand that takes the gloss right off for gangs of pot-bellied freaks with visions of belonging to some so-called "posse comitatus," fighting off the entire Federal Government with their private armory, but that might not be a bad idea. I like the vision of some clown in a pick-up truck, with his Bushmaster, his Glock, his 12-gauge, and 6 thousand rounds of ammunition, going up against just one AH-64D. If I get to watch that one I will bring popcorn!

If the Founding Fathers really wanted us to have the unrestricted right to bear arms then they would have written just that, in one amendment. Why the bit about the militia, that comes first? What, you think they were trying to save parchment by putting two unrelated things in one amendment?

Last time I checked, Germany seemed to be getting along just fine without the same right to keep and bear arms that we now have. Of course one does see the odd Albanian waving a Kalashnikov, and still there are gun atrocities such as "Winnenden," just like the one that happened in Newtown, but, over all, I feel safer there, and I certainly have less concern for my wife and children there.

(Before anyone starts with this, please Google "German gun laws" to check your facts about Hitler and gun control. Hitler loosened gun controls in Germany; there were tighter controls under the (democratic) Weimar Republic.)

No, we are stuck with this fantasy of "God, guns and guts made America great," and we do not want, generally, to think that one over.

Ancient Observer
5th Feb 2013, 13:05
My dad spent lots of time in WW2 in the desert, then back to France for the invasion, then back to the desert to be shot at by aspiring Israelis and Arabs.
Wouldn't talk about any of it. The only thing I remember him saying was that it was tough to lose all your friends.

5th Feb 2013, 13:05

Interesting about your Uncle Bob. There are also those who suffer from PTSD who go the opposite way and withdraw. I saw this in my own father. Although he always had the "thousand yard stare" and I do recall hearing him shouting through nightmares at night when I was a child, he was a totally passive and withdrawn soul. Used to drive my mother bonkers at times but I guess that was the effect of PTSD on him.

5th Feb 2013, 13:07
chuks wrote:

You should not take someone with PTSD out to a shooting range!Having an Einsteinian moment chuks?!!! Just as you shouldn't, as a parent, take your nut case of a son out to a firing range with a semi-automatic rifle. Two and one half weeks before you were about to have him committed. Who would've thought?

I also share your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. Two seemingly disjointed phrases IN THE SAME Amendment, referring, first, to a militia, and then only about "the people."

What many fail to recall is that at the time of the writing of not only the Constitution but the Bill of Rights as well, ALL ABLE-BODIED MEN BETWEEN THE AGES OF 14-65 were part of the state's militia.

5th Feb 2013, 13:15
chuks also wrote:

I like the vision of some clown in a pick-up truck, with his Bushmaster, his Glock, his 12-gauge, and 6 thousand rounds of ammunition, going up against just one AH-64D

That vision of yours is very similar to that of a group of youths hurling stones and firing AK47 rifles at M1A3 Abram tanks. Doesn't really work out too well for the shooter, eh?

5th Feb 2013, 13:35

Sounds like that Liberal Arts stuff is taking hold of you.....you trading in the Toyota for a 15 year old Volvo Station Wagon with a dozen bumper stickers on the tailgate anytime soon?

5th Feb 2013, 13:52
A rusty Subaru that is covered with stickers! Save the Whales, Save the Planet, Save Tibet, Free Leonard Peltier, Walk in Balance (whatever that means), Obama Biden (times 2), Love Animals Don't Eat Them, stickers showing whatever vaguely ethnic stuff is going, from dreamcatchers to vajras, My Karma Ran Over my Dogma, Take It Up Your *** for Jesus (okay, I made that one up)....

I should have sent you a picture of me with bright blue hair so that you could see just how much Marlboro has changed me. Of course, next week after that I had to drive to Boston so that I had it all cut off, not wanting to be strip-searched by the side of Massachusetts Route 2 by some beefy clown in a Smoky the Bear hat, and that put me back beyond where I started.

5th Feb 2013, 14:00

With all those stickers on your beat up Subaru none of them depicting Cabot cheese? Heathen.

5th Feb 2013, 14:49
That is a long haul from being an integral part of the vast American Military-Industrial Complex as you were in a very hush-hush Sneak and Peek outfit you were in at exotic Tan Yer Root, Vietnam. Blue Hair and a stickered Subaru....next thing we know you will be learning the Macedamia dance, attending Pride rallies demanding concessions from the Boy Scouts and wearing love beads and wearing Burden Socks.

Is there no bottom to the waters you are treading?

5th Feb 2013, 15:02

Is that you in this car I spotted in the back woods of south-central Vermont? (I presume on your way to Fire Lake?)