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Chris Kyle's Tragic Quest to Help Troubled Veterans
May 27, 2013 5:45 PM   Subscribe

In the Crosshairs: Chris Kyle, a decorated sniper, tried to help a troubled veteran. The result was tragic. [Previously, Via]
posted by homunculus (68 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow... I wonder how many hundred or thousand stories like this there are. And for what?

Crazy..
posted by snaparapans at 6:13 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


He “hated the damn savages” he was fighting. In his book, he recounts telling an Army colonel, “I don’t shoot people with Korans. I’d like to, but I don’t.”

Whelp.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:24 PM on May 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Legend Of Chris Kyle
He didn’t worry about sounding politically incorrect. The Craft International company slogan, emblazoned around the Punisher skull on the logo: “Despite what your momma told you, violence does solve problems.”

His views were nuanced, though. “If you hate the war, that’s fine,” he told me. “But you should still support the troops. They don’t get to pick where they’re deployed. They just gave the American people a blank check for anything up to and including the value of their lives, and the least everyone else can do is be thankful. Buy them dinner. Mow their yard. Bake them cookies.”

“The best way to describe Chris,” his wife, Taya, says, “is extremely multifaceted.”
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:24 PM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


violence does solve problems

Which is why Iraq is doing so well?
posted by thelonius at 6:29 PM on May 27, 2013


> There was the time in Ramadi that he shot two insurgents who were riding tandem on a moped with a single bullet.

(Remember that the US's official definition of "insurgent" is any male of military age in a war zone...)


Though it should be noted that definition was introduced later by the Obama Administration in response to civilian casualties from drone strikes. A sniper would be able see his targets more clearly, at least.
posted by homunculus at 6:37 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The SEALs began telling stories, and Kyle offered a shocking one. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, he said, the law-and-order situation was dire. He and another sniper travelled to New Orleans, set up on top of the Superdome, and proceeded to shoot dozens of armed residents who were contributing to the chaos. Three people shared with me varied recollections of that evening: the first said that Kyle claimed to have shot thirty men on his own; according to the second, the story was that Kyle and the other sniper had shot thirty men between them; the third said that she couldn’t recall specific details.
Chris Kyle was a troubled veteran.

I mean, this story is probably bullshit. But it's really disturbing, either way. Either he was a mass murdering vigilante (and proud of it), or he was utterly delusional.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:39 PM on May 27, 2013 [42 favorites]


(My last comment was a reply to a comment which seems to have been deleted.)
posted by homunculus at 6:39 PM on May 27, 2013


Could a gun range be a form of exposure therapy?

Absolutely not, Rizzo said.

"What happened this weekend with the death of former Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle at a gun range is exactly the opposite of the evidence-based approach to treating PTSD," termed 'prolonged exposure' or 'virtual reality exposure' therapy, he said. "Chris Kyle, while well trained in his field, had no clinical training in conducting therapeutic exposure."

It is never advisable to put someone with PTSD in an environment where there is likely to be uncontrolled exposure to provocative events -- such as gunfire and visuals of people shooting guns -- because this could stoke a flashback in the PTSD sufferer.

"This would especially not be recommended in a situation where that person had a gun in his/her hand or at least quick access to one. That would truly be a questionable activity, and in this case, it was a deadly one," Rizzo wrote in an e-mail forum to journalists who were asking him about the Kyle case.

Conducting exposure therapy requires a well-trained expert clinician in a very controlled therapeutic setting, Rizzo said.

"That is very different than what one could ever reasonably expect in the atmosphere of a shooting range," he said.

posted by zarq at 6:47 PM on May 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


The SEALs began telling stories, and Kyle offered a shocking one. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, he said, the law-and-order situation was dire. He and another sniper travelled to New Orleans, set up on top of the Superdome, and proceeded to shoot dozens of armed residents who were contributing to the chaos. Three people shared with me varied recollections of that evening: the first said that Kyle claimed to have shot thirty men on his own; according to the second, the story was that Kyle and the other sniper had shot thirty men between them; the third said that she couldn’t recall specific details.
Is there any evidence that 30 people were sniped in New Orleans after Katrina? I'd heard most of the horror stories were way overblown.
posted by delmoi at 7:05 PM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, it doesn't look like it. The article addresses this:
Rumors of snipers—both police officers and criminal gunmen—circulated in the weeks after the storm. Since then, they have been largely discredited. A spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, told me, “To the best of anyone’s knowledge at SOCOM, there were no West Coast SEALs deployed to Katrina.” When I related this account to one of Kyle’s officers, he replied, sardonically, “I never heard that story.”
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:09 PM on May 27, 2013


Is there any evidence that 30 people were sniped in New Orleans after Katrina? I'd heard most of the horror stories were way overblown.

I'd heard that the horror stories about how people stuck in NO behaved were way overblown, but never that stories about the response of the authorities were.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:09 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Popular Mechanics ran a story that debunked the anarchy claims, amongst others:
Both public officials and the press passed along lurid tales of post-Katrina mayhem: shootouts in the Superdome, bodies stacked in a convention center freezer, snipers firing on rescue helicopters. And those accounts appear to have affected rescue efforts as first responders shifted resources from saving lives to protecting rescuers. In reality, although looting and other property crimes were widespread after the flooding on Monday, Aug. 29, almost none of the stories about violent crime turned out to be true. Col. Thomas Beron, the National Guard commander of Task Force Orleans, arrived at the Superdome on Aug. 29 and took command of 400 soldiers. He told PM that when the Dome's main power failed around 5 am, "it became a hot, humid, miserable place. There was some pushing, people were irritable. There was one attempted rape that the New Orleans police stopped."

The only confirmed account of a weapon discharge occurred when Louisiana Guardsman Chris Watt was jumped by an assailant and, during the chaotic arrest, accidently shot himself in the leg with his own M-16.

When the Superdome was finally cleared, six bodies were found--not the 200 speculated. Four people had died of natural causes; one was ruled a suicide, and another a drug overdose. Of the four bodies recovered at the convention center, three had died of natural causes; the fourth had sustained stab wounds.
Doesn't seem like there would have been anything for Chris Kyle to do. If he did shoot 30 people, all of those corpses mysteriously vanished.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:15 PM on May 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Doesn't seem like there would have been anything for Chris Kyle to do. If he did shoot 30 people, all of those corpses mysteriously vanished.

Evidence removal was some other team's responsibility. [/tinfoil hat off]

Anyway, this guy was troubled, obviously, but I think he meant well. That's got to count for something.
posted by gjc at 7:39 PM on May 27, 2013


?!?!?!?!?!?-> Since then, Taya has made Kyle’s causes her own. (This will include mounting a defense against Jesse Ventura, who has decided to pursue damages against Kyle’s estate. A trial is expected to begin later this year.)

posted by Bwithh at 7:41 PM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


http://www.navytimes.com/article/20120829/NEWS/208290323/Ex-SEAL-s-attorney-Ventura-s-claims-deficient
posted by thelonius at 7:46 PM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


His platoon had spray-painted the image of the Punisher—a Marvel Comics character who wages “a one-man war upon crime”—on their flak jackets and helmets.

- Have you looked at our caps recently?
- No.
- They've got skulls on them. They've actually got little pictures of skulls on them. Hans, are we the baddies?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:51 PM on May 27, 2013 [41 favorites]


They've got skulls on them. They've actually got little pictures of skulls on them.

I'm dismayed no one has yet taken up Robert Webb's idea of an army marching under the banner of a rat's anus.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:05 PM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


?!?!?!?!?!?-> ... This will include mounting a defense against Jesse Ventura, who has decided to pursue damages against Kyle’s estate

Kyle's book earned him a seven figure advance and is still on the best seller list, so his estate is a lucrative target. And the story he told about Ventura is, if untrue (and frankly, it sounds like bullshit), pretty shitty.
posted by fatbird at 8:06 PM on May 27, 2013


I'm dismayed no one has yet taken up Robert Webb's idea of an army marching under the banner of a rat's anus.

You mean instead of a nasty thieving scavenger bird?

[BTW: People wouldn't recognize a rat's anus. They have tails in the way and are fur covered. I've had seven pet rats and I don't think I would recognize a rat's anus.]
posted by srboisvert at 8:23 PM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


[BTW: People wouldn't recognize a rat's anus. They have tails in the way and are fur covered. I've had seven pet rats and I don't think I would recognize a rat's anus.]

Now rat testicles, that's a different story all together.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:25 PM on May 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


There's still not enough attention paid to how we reintegrate veterans into society. We ask them to go out and perform under conditions of extreme stress and then just leave them largely alone to come to terms with the aftermath. It's not a weakness to ask for help and it's our failure that we don't support veterans who need it.
posted by arcticseal at 8:44 PM on May 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


[BTW: People wouldn't recognize a rat's anus. They have tails in the way and are fur covered. I've had seven pet rats and I don't think I would recognize a rat's anus.]

Now rat testicles, that's a different story all together.


[After a long day of looking at male Wistar rats belly-side-up during little rat research surgeries, I once gave in and estimated how big human testes would be if they were proportioned similarly. Around 12 inches.]

posted by gingerest at 9:07 PM on May 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Either he was a mass murdering vigilante serial killer (and proud of it), or he was utterly delusional.

"Vigilante" is too kind, if this story is true.
posted by Unified Theory at 9:14 PM on May 27, 2013


We ask them to go out and perform under conditions of extreme stress and then just leave them largely alone to come to terms with the aftermath.

The best proactive intervention would be, it seems, not to place them in those conditions in the first place. And a huge part of that proactive intervention would involve not inculcating people with big guns that they're part of a universe-shattering judgment day struggle of good versus evil, especially when they're actually part of a fairly arbitrary military conflict, and especially if it somehow leads them to view local civilians as subhuman trash that must be destroyed with or without the slightest provocation. It's pretty clear why that sort of worldview would mess up your head.
posted by Nomyte at 9:20 PM on May 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


Betcha half those heroism stories are fake.
posted by telstar at 9:22 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


John Wayne Walding, a former Green Beret and a Silver Star recipient, who lost a leg in a 2008 battle in Afghanistan. “The biggest problem after you get out is finding work that has meaning,” Walding told me. “That purpose, everybody needs that. Chris helped me get that.”

It really does suck that the US military has not done better at helping veterans reenter society. Many are extremely principled, capable, disciplined, and skilled. Military life is SO structured that it seems negligent for the military not to have a better structured approach to reintegration.
posted by salvia at 9:28 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, that's sort of the point, isn't it. The article doesn't explicitly say that Kyle was routinely full of shit, but it doesn't stop far short of it.

Funny how most of the people in this thread are focusing on the guy who got his head blown off in the story. No one sounds like a great human being here, mind you. But I don't think Routh had in mind a public service because of Kyle's utterly disturbing boasts of vigilante justice.

(I also don't quite follow the purpose of the extended background on Kyle, except to show a success (??) story for a soldier returning from active duty.)

Of course now there's the possibility of Routh getting to death row. State-sanctioned killing all around.
posted by supercres at 9:30 PM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Another possible rationale for the backstory on Kyle: to show that even in the success stories, the people returning from war are still pretty fucked up. That's what I got out of it anyway.
posted by supercres at 9:32 PM on May 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


If I were to enter the military, which I have very little inclination for, I think one of my biggest difficulties would be reconciling an internal worldview of being a heroic warfighter defending America's freedoms on the front lines with the reality that I'd be a tiny cog in a massive and often inscrutable war machine with a gory track record that is anything but straightforwardly positive.
posted by Nomyte at 9:34 PM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Everything about this story is horrible. Everything.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:35 PM on May 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


Like many soldiers, Kyle was deeply religious and saw the Iraq War through that prism. He tattooed one of his arms with a red crusader’s cross, wanting “everyone to know I was a Christian.” When he learned that insurgents had placed a bounty on his head and had named him al-Shaitan Ramadi—the Devil of Ramadi—he felt “proud.”
"Shaitan" is Actually the Arabic word for Satan, not "Devil". I guess Mr. Christian decided to fudge that a little.
posted by delmoi at 9:36 PM on May 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Have you ever been shot at?

Have you seen your buddy shot and killed?

Have you killed someone?

Do we expect these young men to come back unaffected?

Shame on us.
posted by Mojojojo at 9:47 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's my limited understanding that Shaytan (Satan) and Iblis (Devil) are used interchangeably in Arabic. Is there any actual significance to using one word over the other?
posted by zarq at 9:51 PM on May 27, 2013


Have you ever been shot at?

Have you seen your buddy shot and killed?

Have you killed someone?

Do we expect these young men to come back unaffected?


In my case, no, no, no and no.

Shame on us.

Why? People in this thread are generally acknowledging that both Kyle and Routh were severely troubled - damaged by their service to their country - and they should have been better supported by their government.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:02 PM on May 27, 2013


Kyle chalked up these incidents to having “pent-up aggression.” He added, “I would rather get my ass beat than look like a pussy in front of my boys.”

This sentence comes a little later after a childhood friend talked about how he was not to be messed with and liked to fight. A lot of this guy's issues seem to come from before he was in the military, and makes it seem like he was brought up in a very hyper-masculine worldview, which was heavily reinforced by being in the military.

Also, was the hazing event of the man who died one that was sort of a buddy-buddy we're-going-to-haze-you-then-buy-you-a-beer-and-crack-some-jokes or a bullying kind? The article doesn't make it clear, as they could have been friends and that's why he was upset, or he felt guilty bullying a man who he later watched be killed.

Either way, this is a very depressing and troubling article. I feel like a lot of men join the military due to growing up with a highly gender-normative, being-a-man worldview and when they are spit back out into a world that is a lot of guys trying to be hardasses because of the same worldview (the "wannabe UFC fighters" he mentions) and people who want them to drop the facade so they can be helped the results are terrible. Thankfully, I know a lot of veterans who aren't like this, and not everyone who serves is like this.

Sad story.
posted by gucci mane at 10:11 PM on May 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


We have got to fucking fix our mental health system. I don't know how to do it, but there's no way Routh should have been living with his girlfriend or parents, holy shit.
posted by maryr at 10:16 PM on May 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm sorry, there's probably a nicer way to put that, but his behavior sounds terrifying to me.
posted by maryr at 10:18 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shame on us.

Why? People in this thread are generally acknowledging that both Kyle and Routh were severely troubled - damaged by their service to their country - and they should have been better supported by their government.


That was my point.
posted by Mojojojo at 10:22 PM on May 27, 2013


One thing learning to fly small planes, or perhaps learning medicine should teach a person is that just because something major has gone badly wrong, doesn't mean a lot of other things aren't simultaneously going to hell in a handcart, too, and may require immediate and even greater attention than the first big problem noticed. Every student pilot practices emergency landing from altitude, simulating a fire on board; my instructor observed, quietly, about halfway down from the 6,000 foot altitude he'd declared my fake training "fire" and shoved in the throttle to idle power, that, in trying to maneuver to get the damn plane down to something like a survivable emergency landing site, that I and him had probably already died of burns and, oh, by the way, we were likely running out of fuel, too, because the fire had probably burned through our fuel lines, and gas was spewing into the former engine compartment under gravity feed, making us worse burnt corpses, and that none of our instruments or lights would still be working, because a fire would have burnt through our wiring, and that, Oh! by the way, it could be pitch black night, to boot. He was probably right, in theory; still, I set up and executed a dead stick landing into a "meadow" surrounded by a pine forest of trees 50 feet tall, just because, I guess, I didn't feel dead. And at 800 feet, my instructor sort of broke a smile and pulled the power back on, near full. On the way back to cruising altitude, we chatted about my imperfections as a low hours pilot in crosswind landings.

Minds are funny things, military missions generally aren't. No one, no one, ever knows or understands all the nuances of either. Young people coming into military service often haven't yet reached the age where schizophrenia, bi-polar syndrome, or many other adult psychiatric conditions fully manifest. And then, they go through some regimented training, mainly designed to minimize individual issues in favor of effective function in a military group role, and are, lately, shortly deployed to foreign bases and cultures, and combat situations. The officers and non-comms they work for aren't psychiatrists, and are tasked with taking a lot of individuals with minimal common background (military basic and occupational training), and getting military missions done with those personnel.

It's inevitable that some of the highest fliers this system produces are going to catch fire, far above the altitudes from which they can expect to survive fire, smoke, and homecoming, just as it is inevitable that others are going to have multiple problems, not all of which are going to have military roots, but which they seem to survive, with minimal help from those around them. Courage and character got no more to do with it, than altitude and time of day got to do with living through fire; in nearly every instance, what can be explained logically doesn't weigh up to luck or Providence, in the edge cases.

God bless 'em all, and let Him, Who might love greater than we, Who might know greater than we, sort 'em out, to Heaven or Hell, or purgatory, or additional duty in regions and roles that may not be logically apparent. And good on them, family members and loved ones, that try to understand, and do their best when the person coming back to them from military service is barely recognizable as a person.

Until we humans are in a position to understand a helluva lot more than we seemingly can at this juncture, tragedy, repentance, and forgiveness are our lot, at best.
posted by paulsc at 10:30 PM on May 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


We have got to fucking fix our mental health system. I don't know how to do it, but there's no way Routh should have been living with his girlfriend or parents, holy shit.

Where do we draw the line between mental illness and hateful violence that may be, in part, motivated by religion? On one hand, people in combat can be traumatized in many ways. On the other hand, people in combat roles are mostly a self-selecting bunch. I imagine that constant danger to one's life and ready access to sanctioned deadly force amplify certain thought patterns and behavioral tendencies, but that doesn't mean that they weren't "there" in some form before the entire experience. Lots of people talk the same talk without ever having been in combat roles. Are they mentally ill too? (Serious question.)
posted by Nomyte at 10:45 PM on May 27, 2013


Wow. Putting aside the moving content, I've to say the qualitative level of writing in this story is fantastic. Sure, it is the NEW YORKER, but this exceeds even their usual standards.
posted by converge at 11:56 PM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess I mean: "I wish I could've done that."
posted by converge at 11:57 PM on May 27, 2013


Anyway, this guy was troubled, obviously, but I think he meant well. That's got to count for something.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and this seems particularly true here. Chris Kyle thought he could help a fellow veteran and PTSD sufferer when by all accounts even the best VA care available would've been hard pressed to do so and he paid for his good intentions with his life.

Not that I'm judging him, as it is clear that there's nowhere near good enough healthcare available for veterans as of course it would cost too much to treat the human wreckage from your unnecessary wars with even a tenth of the care lavished on yet another unneeded weapon system.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:00 AM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


It reads like a lost chapter of No Country for Old Men. Giving a gun to someone that unstable is such an incredible move.
posted by nicolin at 2:58 AM on May 28, 2013


Military life is SO structured that it seems negligent for the military not to have a better structured approach to reintegration.

The structured approach has been tried and has failed, in many versions, over the years. The most recent one (Warrior Transition Units) has been shown to be, at best, less harmful than simply throwing people out into the streets, but only barely, and only for some.

A big part of the problem is that individual attention is not something the military is good at. "Counseling" is a dirty word, because it means that you have stepped out of line and need to have one of your superiors take time out of of his or her busy day and devote some individual attention to your fuckup. That's not a reflection on your mental health, it's just the way the word has evolved (and an outgrowth of the "praise in public, punish in private" mentality that the military has pushed for at least the last 25 years).

The military doesn't handle small problems (that is, those that affect small numbers of people, not matter how devastating to those individual people) well, and PTSD is a host of small problems that conglomerate together under one banner. Much like how "cancer" refers to a lot of different things, so no one is ever going to find a cure for cancer, no one is ever going to find the one protocol that solves PTSD. People and systems will certainly be able to chip away around the edges, but the magic bullet just doesn't exist, and the military tends not to deal well with problems of "chipping" vs. problems of "bullets."

This is, at its heart, not a problem that can be solved in the Pentagon, even by so much as writing a check to someone who can solve it. It will take the VA (and fewer military minds in the VA), operating under a distinctly different mandate and a significantly larger resource set.
posted by Etrigan at 3:57 AM on May 28, 2013 [14 favorites]


Giving a gun to someone that unstable is such an incredible move.

Incredible is good, but I'd probably use "absurdly dumb."
posted by ReeMonster at 6:08 AM on May 28, 2013


One thing that really stood out for me in this article is that everyone close to Routh seems to have just shrugged off the fact that he was drinking heavily - despite being on antipsychotics, SSRIs, and who knows what else. That's a recipe for disaster. If family and friends wanted to help him get better, a very basic first step might have been paying attention to the warnings on his meds, and getting him off the booze..
posted by blackberet at 6:33 AM on May 28, 2013


If family and friends wanted to help him get better, a very basic first step might have been paying attention to the warnings on his meds, and getting him off the booze.

That's a lot more difficult than it sounds, especially with a lack of professional help. My question would be why he was prescribed that medication with a recent history of heavy drinking, and without being offered any help with the drinking. It seems highly possible to me that a duty of care was neglected by the psychiatrist.
posted by walrus at 7:39 AM on May 28, 2013


They just gave the American people a blank check for anything up to and including the value of their lives, and the least everyone else can do is be thankful.

The presumption that I should automatically admire and be grateful to someone for doing that is the hardest part of Memorial day.
posted by straight at 7:48 AM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


“I'd be a tiny cog in a massive and often inscrutable war machine with a gory track record that is anything but straightforwardly positive.”
I think most people get that part of it when they’re in.
Ever seen how really messed up some parts of the world are? The U.S. is a bastion of light in contrast to some places. What would a soldier of Rome think of himself? (Depends on part in what era, yes, but still)
Reminds me of “Gladiator” :I've seen much of the rest of the world. It is brutal and cruel and dark, Rome is the light. … and Marcus Aurelius: “There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish... it was so fragile. And I fear that it will not survive the winter.”

“The best proactive intervention would be, it seems, not to place them in those conditions in the first place.”

It’s got such a history of working so well.
Though, also given the history – for example the American Protective League – potential troops get hosed for not handing up a blank check to the American people. Indeed, the American people get hosed with the end runs with mercenaries and contractors hiding the actual costs of war.

“I don’t shoot people with Korans. I’d like to, but I don’t.”

He couldn’t. First of all, which Koran? The Al Madinah or Azhar? Is it an English translation?
It’s got at least 114 chapters, so what, 600-odd pages for an English translation depending on the font. Windage on a good sized book eliminates longer shots. Plus it’s paper so no firearms, probably pneumatics. Say a 36 inch pvc pipe if the book is rolled up and waxed. Pvc you don’t want to go over 80 psi or so (depending on thickness, but you want to be able to lug it around, no?) so call it 60 or 70 psi, so about 120 feet, but that’s at an arc…. Nah, even if he’d like to, he couldn’t shoot people with Korans. They could dodge them easy.


“It will take the VA (and fewer military minds in the VA), operating under a distinctly different mandate and a significantly larger resource set.”


Very well said, thanks.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:19 AM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I went to high school with Chris Kyle, and my mom worked in the school district with Eddie Routh's mother. I used to carpool to school with Brian Rury, Kyle's best friend. He was my mom's cardiac ICU nurse when she had open heart surgery a few years back.

If Chris Kyle's book had been written by someone else, I'd feel animosity and righteousness toward the guy for his flippant attitude, his casual pride in killing so many people, and the ease with which he seemingly pulled the trigger.

I can't think about him that way, though, because to me he'll always be the strong, quiet, self-possessed kid in the FFA jacket. Eddie Routh will always be the son of a woman my mom worked with. They're people from my hometown, not characters in a bizarre and tragic story.

I don't really know what my point is, except that next time I find myself judging anyone, or their motivations, based on a magazine article, I'm going to try to remember that it's all just real people.

Also, what the fuck is up with mental health care -- and actual physical care -- for war veterans in the country? What is wrong with us?
posted by mudpuppie at 9:59 AM on May 28, 2013 [14 favorites]


The author speaks on NPR.
posted by killy willy at 10:10 AM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not being a devotee, does the NYer have a twee thing about acronyms or is it a bad editing day? I keep being distracted in the article by "seals on the rooftop", "sere training," and "the rand Corporation," the last taking the cake.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 5:23 PM on May 28, 2013


"Shaitan" is Actually the Arabic word for Satan, not "Devil". I guess Mr. Christian decided to fudge that a little.

Not to defend this fellow's war-mania or anything, but you've got the etymological cart before the horse, here. 'Shaitan' means devil or evil spirit, and is also used as a reference towards the concept of 'opposition'. The Christian term of 'Satan', the big oogy-boogeyman as a Proper Noun, is taken from that term - not the other way around.
posted by FatherDagon at 5:29 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not being a devotee, does the NYer have a twee thing about acronyms or is it a bad editing day? I keep being distracted in the article by "seals on the rooftop", "sere training," and "the rand Corporation," the last taking the cake.

Note that they refer to "P.T.S.D." and "F.B.I.", with all the periods. I'm going to guess they have some kind of automatic uncapitalizer to keep writers from EMPHASIZING the WRONG WAY, and forgot to check for artifacts of that. Since "seal," "sere" and "rand" are all actual words in addition to being acronyms, their spellcheck didn't catch them either.
posted by Etrigan at 6:33 PM on May 28, 2013


Thanks for posting this, it's a good read by a good author (he also wrote what is widely considered one of the best accounts of the bin Laden raid). It's a story that strikes several personal chords with me. I recently enlisted in the military myself and submitted paperwork to volunteer for deployment (presumably to Afghanistan) a few months ago after I finished basic training. One of the concerns I have regarding this decision is wondering how I will react emotionally and mentally upon completion of my tour. Obviously every deployment is different, and it's probably impossible to predict what my experiences will be or how it will affect me.

But stories like this (along with the experiences fellow soldiers and family/friends have shared with me) certainly give reason for pause. I disagree with many of the personal views that Kyle seemed to hold, but it's hard to know if those views helped or hindered him as it related to his dealing with the effects of his experiences. But I certainly find it admirable his dedication to helping his fellow veterans in a manner that he thought fit, and that it was this same act of generosity that lead to his death is a cruel tragedy.
posted by Man Bites Dog at 6:37 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The structured approach has been tried and has failed, in many versions, over the years. The most recent one (Warrior Transition Units) has been shown to be, at best, less harmful than simply throwing people out into the streets, but only barely, and only for some.

Thanks for your comment, Etrigan. I have to find a good book on all of this, if you or anyone have one to recommend. I keep seeing stories like this article.
posted by salvia at 8:44 PM on May 28, 2013


...apparently its just Chrome...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 9:00 PM on May 28, 2013


I've listened to Chris Kyle's answers to the 10 questions of a Time magazine journalist. He stated that people in the USA lived in a dream, ignoring everything that was implemented to guarantee their safety. The only reason - apart from an unconscious suicidal pattern- I could find for giving a gun to the kid and trusting him was the belief that they shared something, maybe a better sense of reality, values, brotherhood. Unfortunately, he couldn't be farther from truth.
posted by nicolin at 3:59 AM on May 29, 2013


...apparently its just Chrome...

Ah, I think I see the problem. In IE (don't judge me -- I'm at work), SEAL, SERE and RAND are in a smallcap font (notably different from the rest), while P.T.S.D. and F.B.I. are in the regular font. Chrome must be rendering that in the same font as the rest of the article, but SEAL, SERE and RAND are in lowercase in their smallcap font.
posted by Etrigan at 6:04 AM on May 29, 2013


mudpuppie I don't really know what my point is, except that next time I find myself judging anyone, or their motivations, based on a magazine article, I'm going to try to remember that it's all just real people.

Amazing that you knew him... (yea Metafilter).. but another way of thinking about this is that we often do not know people, or we do but only something about who they are in the context of our relationship with them. Many times after a person does some really dark deed, we hear from those who knew him or her, that they were normal: nice, friendly, and seemingly well adjusted. I am sure that was true for those who knew him or her in that way, but for others, who bore the brunt of the dark deed, they saw a completely different person.

Nice to hear your view, refreshing.. a reminder really, for as you suggest, it is good to keep an open mind with people, and judgments are best to avoid.
posted by snaparapans at 7:36 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


> a huge part of that proactive intervention would involve not inculcating people with big guns that they're part of a universe-shattering judgment day struggle of good versus evil

Some portion of people not brain-washed to some extent don't kill, even when fired upon. Debate rages on how much, but it's claimed [citation needed] that part of military training is to overcome humanization of the target.
posted by morganw at 4:58 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by MoTLD at 11:12 PM on May 29, 2013


. . .
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 6:19 AM on May 30, 2013


How A War Hero Became A Serial Bank Robber: Army medic Nicholas Walker returned home from Iraq after 250 combat missions, traumatized and broken. His friends and family couldn’t help him. Therapy couldn’t help him. Heroin couldn’t help him. Pulling bank heists helped him.
posted by homunculus at 4:40 PM on June 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Homunculus, that made for a interesting read. So many wounded people.
posted by arcticseal at 7:04 PM on June 2, 2013


It probably deserves an FPP. If someone wants to post it, be my guest.
posted by homunculus at 7:08 PM on June 2, 2013


"I Am Sorry That It Has Come to This": A Soldier's Last Words
posted by homunculus at 1:08 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


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