SARGE: To Arm Or Not To Arm

Okay. So the question arises: do we arm our military on-base or not?

In light of the Fort Hood shootings replicating the original incident in all ways other than a mentally disturbed soldier went off rather than a wannabee Al Qaeda operative masquerading as a mental health professional, the politicians are weighing in as though one answer fits all. As usual the issue is way too complex to be answered easily.

Instead of people being slaughtered by a Muslim murderer posing as a doctor, we have a young man evidently slaughtering people while in need of a doctor. The issue shifted from combat on America’s shore to the death of innocents by the hand of the mentally ill.

These are NOT easy concepts to accept or understand.

News reports are all we, in the public sector, have to help us develop our thoughts. Politicians learn something, somewhere and then draft “talking points’ designed to gather them attention and move them into the nation’s awareness. It’s irrelevant if that awareness is good or bad; it’s merely important that we recognize they’re trying to appear imperious as well as authoritative. I mean golly; they have to look like they’re doing something don’t they?

Envision this please. Soldier “A” enlists and passes a battery of tests designed to maximize his usage in the military by finding his strengths intellectually and mechanically. At no real time does the level of testing his emotional balance or his character development equal the search conducted to find out how best to use this soldier, sailor, marine or what have you for the best benefit of the unit. The individual is always secondary to the mission. Some will say that’s as it should be. Others will say the chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

I’d suggest we’re in the process, with funding cuts post-sequester, of decreasing the propriety and quality of our selection process where it applies to our young people. This second shooter claimed to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) though he never saw combat. He may have entered the service with it, but he didn’t see combat in Iraq during a tour lasting less than a half-year. He may have entered the service as an undiagnosed sufferer of PTSD.

He had poor sleep habits and was allegedly medicated with a sleep-inducing drug noted to induce: paranoia, quick to react or overreact emotionally, rapidly changing moods, thoughts of killing oneself or changes in behavior, drowsiness, headache, sleepiness or unusual drowsiness ( of side effects)

It appears this soldier may have entered the service with issues making him NOT a good candidate for military service. He may have enlisted in a damaged state. Circumstances drove him past the point of control and he snapped. It appears the standard of care wasn’t effective in that it sought to control the symptom (a major diagnostic and treatment modality used because of a lack of sufficient resources (doctor and nurse availability) and postpone determining the underlying cause of the symptom. Some people challenge the system because it promotes the “drug before the hug”. The “hug” sometimes means putting the subject under tighter controls and limiting contacts with others until a better grasp of the problem can be developed.

But, knowing one of the medications he was prescribed could cause the side-effects noted to surface, should have been a major consideration in his treatment. One diagnosis and treatment plan has never been “one-size-fits-all”. Many sleep aids have deleterious effects and can worsen the problem by strengthening the despair and separation a mentally crumbling person feels, endures and suffers.

Now the politicians want to create “circular firing squads” of men and women armed to “stop” the incident before it gets out of hand.

Envision this: a troubled soldier, adversely affected by the pharmaceuticals he’s prescribed, pulls a weapon: a supervisor commanded to be under arms at all times draws his weapon and challenges the first soldier. Another supervisor soldier enters the area, as do four more from different doors. They see the problem and draw their weapons and cover the two soldiers (if not each other) because they don’t know the original problem or its source. You now have a lot of guns pointed at a lot of people and no real solution available for anybody else in the potential combat zone awaiting the chance to be collateral damage.

This is called a “circular firing squad”, “a Mexican Stand-off” or a “dynamic cluster f#@%”. So what do you do?

You sure as hell don’t leave it up to a politician to decide. Let the military clean and restructure their own house.

That’s what we pay them to do.

Thanks for listening.

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