I haven’t posted anything in months, and I know it’s bad to drive or blog in an emotional state, but I have to express this. I’m not one to reside in moral outrage, but this is just too much: I am absolutely sick about the Robert Bales story. I’m sure I don’t have all the facts (does anyone?), and only have my own perspective to work with but, from where I sit, this is looks like it is about to become a travesty. I heard on this morning’s news that there hasn’t been a military execution in this country in a long time and I’m thinking WHAT?? Am I actually hearing that it is even being considered a possibility in this case??
Okay, deep breath. Here is what I understand about Staff Sgt. Bales: he had four deployments (we don’t have the research yet to understand the long term impact of more than two on a person’s physical/emotional wellbeing), at least one of which occurred after he suffered a traumatic brain injury. So the military sends him back over (it is irrelevant to me that he may have wanted to return) with a known TBI, and something goes horribly wrong. They bring him back to Leavenworth and now they (the media, anyway) are talking about executing him? What is wrong with this picture? To me it looks like we sent a healthy guy into combat and kept sending him back regardless of his condition. Now that the inevitable has occurred, we’re going to hang him out to dry? This is beyond fubar to me.
Last week I got to talking to a guy at Starbucks who was wearing a Marines T-shirt. Turns out he’s 26 years old and 100% disabled for life after returning from Iraq in ’05. In addition to severe physical injuries, he came back with a TBI and pretty severe PTSD. Now, sevenish years later, this kid is a convicted felon, struggling with flashbacks, in the midst of a divorce from the mother of his 8-month old, completely estranged from his family because of his bad behavior (related to frontal lobe damage…impulse control, etc.). At least he can walk again, though. And, for whatever reason, he is completely disconnected from any form of support or community. (I sent him off with a ton of names and numbers of VSOs.)
HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?
Robert Bales needs help, not punishment. We did this to him. Why are we talking about execution and not treatment for the physical and emotional injuries he sustained in service to the nation? My compassion can’t even begin to extend to the 16 he killed until we do right by him.