Tragic Killings Raise Questions, Stereotypes - Cohen Veterans Network
Top Alert

Tragic Killings Raise Questions, Stereotypes

Cohen Veterans Network’s mission is to destigmatize mental health care and improve the lives of all veterans in the United States.


The recent tragic killings of police officers in Dallas, TX and Baton Rouge, LA have been disturbing for a host of reasons beyond the fact that innocent lives were lost. They highlight the worst case scenario when people struggle with anger and aggression.


The Army has been researching anger and according to the USA Today has found that, “It remains unclear what causes the anger and aggression, although it can be linked to combat-zone ailments, including disrupted sleep patterns, recurring nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” There is no consensus yet on whether it is this anger and aggression that is correlated with extreme behavior such as the recent killings.


According to the New York Times, neither shooter Micah Johnson nor Gavin Long saw combat and there is no evidence to suggest that either struggled with post-traumatic stress.


Unfortunately, thpoint72_cmykere are stereotypes about veterans being callous and violent that the military is working to reverse.


As the Times noted, “People see these guys were veterans and they make the leap that all veterans are killers with PTSD that are going to blow at a moment’s notice,” said Phillip Carter, an Iraq war veteran who studies the interaction between veterans and society for the Center for a New American Security. “That message is very harmful.”


Both veterans were disenchanted after their service and struggled with the return to civilian life, according to the San Antonio Express-News.


Delphine Johnson says that her son Micah Johnson was extremely disappointed with the military and he was also described as being “filled with hatred”.


On Task & Purpose Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said, “I’m not aware of any indication that their military service necessarily played any role in the events, the tragic events, that played out in Baton Rouge and Dallas.”


Given the recently released data from the VA showing that (as of 2014) veterans are committing suicide at a rate of 20 per day, this response from the Department of Defense is decidedly troubling.


It is clear that the mental health of veterans including those that were never deployed or that received other than honorable discharges are in desperate need of support. What they don’t need is anything less than honesty about the struggles veterans still face.


The Cohen Veterans Network aims to bring mental health care to all veterans and their families but it cannot do this alone. In potential partnerships with institutions like the Department of Defense, CVN will work to overcome the stigma around mental health care.

By Ben Grossman, CVN Summer Associate