His life is over. Does he need to be killed?

I’m not in the business of defending murderers (I leave that to defense attorneys), and I’m not going to defend the American soldier who recently went on a killing rampage in Afghanistan.  But if I was his mother, or wife, and I heard people calling for the death penalty for my son, I think I’d go crazy.  What if I thought my son should never have been allowed to return to duty, after suffering a brain injury  in Iraq in 2010, where he served two times before? The army cleared him to go back, but what if I sensed something was wrong?

A soldier on duty in Afghanistan

 

After reading about and seeing documentaries on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), I would not be surprised if the soldier was one of its victims and should never have been permitted to go to another war zone.

He committed a horrific act, but it’s possible he needs a lifetime of therapy, not a life prison sentence. Or the death sentence. My uncle returned from the Pacific Theatre in World War 11 and led a tortured life because he was never properly diagnosed with PTSD. They called it “shell shock” then, but even shock therapy later in his life never set my uncle right.

My heart goes out to the innocent victims of the soldier’s act, but it also goes out to the soldier and his family. I am not prepared to make a judgment before hearing all the facts about him. Psychological disease can be far more insidious and incurable than cancer.

It’s a tragic story, no matter what the outcome.

11 Responses to “His life is over. Does he need to be killed?”

  1. Becky says:

    I am a veteran, daughter of a veteran and my daughter and much loved son in law have been deployed (my sil 4 times). We have a code of Military conduct we are sworn to uphold. As a mother I would be devastated. If you are ordered to deploy, you deploy. War changes everyone. Sometimes it’s visible. Sometimes it isn’t. This latest event is not excusable even if it is understandable. Does it need to be addressed? Yes! Too often soldiers do not seek help because it goes on their record and affects duty assignments and promotions. I know the Army is working hard to get soldiers to come forward for help but it is a struggle. There are procedures in place where NCO’s and officers MUST report cases where they feel help is required. But you can’t make someone accept help if they don’t want it.

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  2. Laurie says:

    Do we have all the facts? I do not think we have been told all there is to know and for that reason, we should all reserve judgment until we do. He is the son, husband and father to children and as an American citizen he is innocent until proven guilty. If he had a psychotic break and he killed someone, what would his penalty be? Obviously being in the service does have to weigh in here but he needs some compassion or at least his family does as they try to cope with the aftermath.

    Kate- you say he deserves to be confined for life. Your son was in Iraq for a short time. Not to diminish his service but I think this man is very different from your son having served 4 times in a war zone, the fourth time after being told he would not be going back. I think if you think about it and put your son in the same experience that this man has lived over there, you would not want your son confined for life unless he did not respond to treatment. If he did respond to treatment, would you still want him ( your son) confined for life?

    Let all of the facts come out and let’s not judge him for what he was before he went in the service. The media sensationalism is at work and he deserves to be judged on the facts that are pertinent to the act he is accused of, nothing more, nothing less.

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    • v says:

      The death penalty and war are just two other ways to describe murder, so I’m not suggesting Bales should be killed. What I do suggest is that most Americans need a serious wake-up call.

      “As an American citizen he is innocent until proven guilty?” So, only Americans are “innocent until proven guilty?” We can kill anyone we like with impunity, label them “insurgents” after the fact and for expediency, and that’s okay — as long as they’re not American citizens? And what about Bradley Manning? He’s being treated as though convicted, though he has yet to be charged. I don’t hear the masses jumping to his defense.

      This is as bad as those who suggest that ONLY Americans are entitled to “Constitutional rights.” The Constitution did not state that “all Americans are born equal” (and if we wanted to be literal, we should remember that the Constitution really only protected white males).

      We (Americans) need to be reminded, daily, that we are aggressors commiting war crimes. The things we are doing are the very things for which the Nuremburg trials were held. We keep pretending that if someone needs a job, it’s perfectly okay for them to kill for a paycheck or tuition. And we have seemingly no concern for those they kill. We simply decide that our victims are “terrorists,” and our hearts go out to their killers. That they were “just following orders” is okay — for our guys. But the nazis? Well. That was totally different.

      We need to detox! Our addiction to pretty lies (and killing) has made us a very sick people. Have we no decency? Have we no shame?

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      • Laurie says:

        I only assume you are responding to my post since it was indented right after my post. If you were responding to all the posts and not just mine then please accept my apologies for how I choose to respond.

        I did not intend to say only Americans have rights over the others. My point was that he deserves to have his side heard before we judge him. My statement was to remind us that we ALL are innocent until proven guilty. Any person has the right to be heard before they are condemned.

        I understand your outrage but how are you helping the situation by inflaming others by misconstruing their comments? Plus, last I knew, I did not get a vote on where they send the armed forces and what war or place they ( US) chose to get involved it. Direct your outrage to those responsible. I think we all know that our world is messed up but I do not need you judging my decency.

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  3. v says:

    We invaded. We occupy. We dehumanize and then we kill. We’re war criminals pretending to wear the white hats. What if the Afghani children were your children. What if the elderly were your parents and grandparents.

    Did you ever ask yourself, “what if Ted Bundy were my son?”

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  4. Colleen Kelly Mellor says:

    We now recognize the fact that serial assignments to combat zones produce undesirable results and many of these men who’ve gotten in trouble when they come home had signed on for multiple tours of duty.

    But, apparently, this man is different, for news is just coming in that he scammed others before in his life (the older couple he robbed of their life savings, when he was investment counselor;) he had alleged domestic abuse charges; he may have had a significant drinking problem, too…

    Now, maybe he snapped, because who in his right mind would do such a hellacious thing? But our government, too, bears culpability, too, as does the military, for they keep sending the same group of soldiers over.

    At the end of the day, I believe there will be far more bad press coming out concerning this man. Now, put a weapon in those troubled hands and allow him to police situations, and we all pay.

    No, I don’t believe execution is the appropriate end-result, because we all (thru our government) are somewhat responsible for allowing these social misfits unfettered access to others.

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  5. Lisa says:

    Interesting how differently this American soldier is being treated compared to the one who killed all those people at Ft Hood (12 murdered, 31 wounded). We’re already talking about the death penalty whereas the other massacre is being called “a workplace incident”.

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  6. Cecile says:

    Do we remember, was it Sargent Kelly, during the Vietnam War who did the exact same thing? and he faced Court Martial if my memory serves? Now, I ask: did we learn anything from that? Evidently not. We send our men to war and when they lose their sanity they are sentenced to death… I am so over this, and any other war! If there were another planet i’d move!!

    Cécile

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    • Geri says:

      I agree that our soldiers must come home. The young man who killed the innocent civilians in Afghanistan saw his friend’s leg shot off a few days (or a day before). It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. He had enough and he went off the deep end. I heard he was drinking, too. Not everyone reacts the same way to the same situation.

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  7. Kate Line Snider says:

    Killed? Maybe not; I am against the death penalty. Treated and confined for life? Definitely.I believe this soldier has long-standing psychological problems, and a violent streak.In any case, the judgement isn’t up to me.

    My youngest son , the most stable of my children,served in Iraq. He joined the reserves in order to get money for college. At nineteen, he was in the front line at the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003. His three-man Psy-op team discovered the aftermath of the attack on the ill-fated maintenance company. He was only in Iraq about four months, during which time he endured countless combat situations and periods of total terror. He came home with graphic photographs I am not permitted to see, and only recently has he begun to talk a little about his experiences.

    My son came home changed and later, angry and anxious, but he would never commit the atrocities perpetrated by the soldier in Afghanistan.He has PTSD and receives disability pay. He will be 29 this year.

    Combat soldiers should be heavily screened before being deployed. Even the “normal” ones suffer, but they are not always anxious to kill again.

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    • Vera J says:

      Kate, how do you know what your son would or would not do placed in the same position. These men, actually mostly boys, are in unimaginably horrible positions. How they react to situations would most probably depend on the situation they found themselves in.

      My son served in Desert Storm and I would not state that I know for a certainty what or what not he might do. He seems to be fine mentally. But he received no therapy and really is not the same as when he went in. Not to say there is anything wrong with him. But who am I too judge.

      I feel such sympathy for these young men. They are in a place they shouldn’t be. Facing unbelievable situations and terror, daily. They need to come home. That is the solution. Our government should not put anymore of these “children” in harms way. Physically or mentally.

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