I was, like many others, shocked to hear of the death of SOC Chris Kyle. Many others, especially those who knew him, are far better suited to write about him. I never had the chance to meet him or his friend Chad Littlefield, who was killed alongside him.
I would like to discuss why I am quite simply dumbfounded as to how this happened, and then I would like to discuss PTSD. This is a difficult article for me to write on a number of levels.
For a veteran of the Iraq war - a Marine veteran, no less - to kill a man he knew had once fought alongside him against a common enemy is unconscionable.
I have never encountered an American military veteran who found justification in (objectively) unjustified violence. I have never encountered someone who I could tell was dealing with problems after a deployment who thought that hurting others who had done nothing to deserve it was a solution. Although veterans are often exceptionally skilled at the application of violence, they do not apply it to every situation with wanton disregard for its effects.
If anything, those fighting a battle against themselves did just that - they only wanted to hurt themselves or punish themselves - to hold themselves accountable for situations over which they had no control.
I don't deny that people who fall outside these statements exist, only that they are so few in number as to be exceedingly rare.
For me to bring up the fact that the VA told me I had PTSD in conversation with people who have never been in the military is quite uncommon. It is not a point of pride and the greatest frustration comes from dealing with those who haven't been there. Some pay lip service to veterans out of politeness, some genuinely mean it - but neither group was there with us, and all look at us differently.
I don't want to be seen differently. I don't want to be looked at with pity, fear, disgust, or mockery. I have had life experiences, ones that resulted from my choices, as have you. I joined to help people and wasn't always able to. That's my problem and not yours. It's not anything I have ever used as an excuse to lash out at anyone else, verbally or physically.
But it's easier to put someone with PTSD in the "crazed war veteran" box than it is to put real thought into their character or motivations.
I don't know why Mr. Kyle and Mr. Littlefield's killer (ym"sh) did what he did. Maybe we'll know tomorrow or maybe we'll never know.
What I do know in my heart is that his actions cannot be reconciled with the simple acronym "PTSD."