A vet opens fire … and that’s relevant to what?


A headline appeared in the Houston Chronicle that said a gunman has been identified as a “military vet.”

Is it just me, or is there a bit of generalizing here that resembles what happened to veterans of another era?

Someone tell me that’s not happening.


Returning service personnel are coming home from war in Afghanistan and, earlier, from Iraq. Many of them suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, the ailment once known as “shell shock.”

A gunman opened fire in Houston, killing at least one person, injuring others and then was killed by a police SWAT officer.

Here’s my concern.

I hope we don’t see news reports that seem to equate someone’s military service to a crime they might commit.

You might recall how it was often reported during the 1970s and 1980s when people committed violent crimes and the headlines often would say something like: “Vietnam vet goes berserk” or “Vietnam veteran suspected of killing children.”

Do you get where I’m coming from? There seemed to be some correlation made immediately that connected the perpetrator’s terrible deed to his service in Vietnam. That war, some have argued, turned returning soldiers into caricatures, even though they represented a tiny fraction of all the people who served with honor and distinction during that terrible conflict.

The vast majority of them did their duty, came home, readjusted to civilian life quickly, and became normal folks just doing whatever it is normal folks do.

I surely hope we do not paint returning veterans today with the same kind of broad brush that coated an earlier generation of warriors.


One thought on “A vet opens fire … and that’s relevant to what?”

  1. I’ve never met I Texan I don’t like. This has been true since an outgoing cutie from Texas emigrated (named Stovall) to our high school in Alaska. Up here back then (in the 70s) just being from Texas was reason enough for some good-natured teasing.

    Later, when attending college Outside, I found out EVERBODY teases Texans.

    That Houston Chronicle heading could just as well have read:

    Police ID gunman in west Houston shooting spree as a Texan

    Police ID gunman in west Houston shooting spree as a Houston Resident

    Police ID gunman in west Houston shooting spree as [many other categories]

    It looks like a course in logic is in order for that headline writer – or at least some Sensitivity Training.

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