Another Reason We NEED the Military Justice Improvement Act (US Navy)

The Navy Yard Shooting breaks my heart. As with all tragedies we must learn from them to determine what we can do as a society to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. In this case, how could we have utilized the military institution to determine whether this person needed help or was a danger to our society.  This is yet another reason we need the Military Justice Improvement Act.  We cannot continue the pattern of kicking soldiers out of the military due to mental illness or criminal activity only to become society’s problem.     
This case has the same theme as most of the cases I research involving either suicide or murder.  The soldier either asks for help and/or starts getting in trouble and instead of anyone helping him/her, they just toss them out on their head.  When we got tossed from the military, they never gave us any information about where we could get help, what PTSD was, nothing.  We went from straight up military life to blam, you are now a civilian and gotta figure this all out on your own (with no money). As a military member, it is not easy to transition back into civilian life.  All we needed was for someone to say, it’s not your fault, you have PTSD, and this is how you treat it. Regardless of the reason why you were tossed, you should be referred at least to the Veteran Affairs for help. There is currently no continuity between releasing the soldier from active duty and transitioning them into the Veteran Affairs for care.
The Military Justice Improvement Act would help us deal with situations like this.  Instead of the member getting tossed out by a Commander, who doesn’t have time to deal with the real issues, he could have been processed through a division of the military that was professional enough to understand that the person had PTSD or some other form of mental illness.  And instead of just sending them out the door, we could use this opportunity to give them the information they need in order to get well.  The trigger being as soon as the soldier starts showing signs of misbehavior then they get referred to the folks who would make the decision as to whether or not the soldier needs to be punished and/or helped. 
If the soldier was harmed on the job or started exhibiting symptoms of a mental illness while on the job, then it is the military’s responsibility to treat them. Please have some compassion for their cries for help so that future tragedies like these do not occur.  All the services are there for the veteran that you toss out with no aftercare plan.  Give them the tools to heal, acknowledge the harm that was caused, and stop treating us all like we are casualties. The military must be held accountable for the people they know are either sick or a danger to our society. Otherwise it ripples into every community across the world. 
Areas of Improvement:
  • recruiting policies and screening
  • transitioning active duty to VA for aftercare,
  • closing security clearance loopholes,
  • centralized database to track reported criminal activity while serving,
  • improving the communication between civilian and military authorities,
  • helping or locking up the person so we can prevent the crime.
In the news:
Navy Yard killer Aaron Alexis heard voices, but kept secret clearance
VA Says Navy Yard Gunman Didn’t Seek Mental Health Treatment

The Wounded Platoon: A Powerful Portrait of What Multiple Tours & Post-Traumatic Stress are Doing to a Generation of Young American Soldiers (May 18, 2010)

The Wounded Platoon

Click here to watch The Wounded Platoon on PBS.

“Since the Iraq War began, soldier arrests in the city of Colorado Springs have tripled. FRONTLINE tells the dark tale of the men of 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st battalion of the 506th infantry, and how the war followed them home. It is a story of heroism, grief, vicious combat, depression, drugs, alcohol and brutal murder; an investigation into the Army’s mental health services; and a powerful portrait of what multiple tours and post-traumatic stress are doing to a generation of young American soldiers. [Explore more stories on the original website for The Wounded Platoon.]” -PBS (May 18, 2010)

Civilian Jacqwelyn Villagomez Died at the Hands of Boyfriend and Retired Army Private John Needham (2008)

Jacqwelyn Joann Villagomez (2008)

Jacqwelyn Villagomez

Honoring Jacqwelyn Joann Villagomez, 19, who tragically died on September 1, 2008 at the hands of Army Private John Needham, a medically retired soldier struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Although John was charged with her murder, he died on February 19, 2010 shortly before the trial of an apparent overdose on painkillers.

Related Links:
Woman, 19, dies after apparent beating in condo
‘Mentally unstable’ Iraq veteran arrested in death of girlfriend, 19
Iraq vet charged with killing girlfriend is found dead in Arizona
Former Carson soldier Needham, charged in slaying, dies in Arizona
Private Needham’s War: A soldier is accused of killing the woman he loves
Deadly duty for Fort Carson
‘Lethal Warriors’ in Iraq, Linked to String of Crimes Back Home
John Needham Back in Court
Iraq War Vet’s Dad Accused of Threatening Victim’s Friend
Was PTSD to blame? Mystery over troubled Iraq veteran who killed girlfriend and was found dead after overdosing 18 months later
Soldier in “Coming Home” series dies after surgery
Iraq veteran accused of murder has died
Troubled Iraq vet charged with murder dies
Military Whistleblower Ends Up Dead
A Focus on Violence by Returning G.I.’s
The Hell of War Comes Home: Newspaper Series Documents Murder, Suicide, Kidnappings by Iraq Vets
John Needham, Iraq Veteran, Accuses Army Of War Crimes
New Photos Released of Iraq Atrocity, With Documents and Video
Are they both victims? Veteran Suffering Traumatic Brain Injury Beats Girlfriend to Death, Kills Himself
Army Ranger John Needham Exposes Possible American War Crimes in Iraq, and is Punished For it
Project Censored Recommends: Video “On the Dark Side in Al Doura, A Soldier in the Shadows” Addresses Soldier’s War Crimes Allegations & Iraq Atrocity Photos
On the Dark Side in Al Doura – A Soldier in the Shadows
“48 Hours” preview: Private Needham’s war