Former Recruiter Opens Fire

Shootings and ‘random’ acts of violence are more common among fellow soldiers than you would imagine.   The military is often associated with violence, guns, and heavy machinery; however, those elements don’t just extend to the enemy, but comrades as well.  What people don’t know is how deep that violence goes, how deep the military masks that violence, and how that violence can certainly be prevented.  Some may call it going A-Wall, cabin fever, or simply plain homesickness.  But the true term is PTSD.  According to, Charlene Rubush of WinoverPTSD.com , over 300,000 deployed soldiers currently suffer from PTSD.  PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may occur after a traumatic or life threatening event.  The National Center for PTSD states, about 5.2 million adults suffer from this disorder in a given year.  It has led to suicides, self-harm, depression, murder, rape, and brain injuries.

In 2009 there was a mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas which took the lives of 13 people.  A Washington Navy Yard suffered a similar fate only six weeks ago, when a former navy reservist went on a shooting spree that left 12 dead.  Needless to say, something serious is happening and yet nothing is being done.  Instead of reporting on the event itself, I think journalists should take it a step forward and investigate why this is happening so frequently, what is being done to stop it, or is there anything at all being done to stop it.  Reporters need to focus more on ‘the why’ rather than ‘the who’.  Journalists established that there have been shootings on base and in camp, but they have yet to say why these acts of violence are so prominent.

On Oct. 24 a Tennessee National Guard recruiter opened fire and wounded two fellow soldiers.  This outburst occurred at a military base near Memphis, Tennessee.  Additionally, the incident is the second naval base shooting this year.

The New York Times article is entitled: “National Guardsman Accused of Shooting and Wounding 2 in Tennessee.”  It is written by Alan Blinder.  The Wall Street Journal article is entitled: “Police: National Guard Member Opens Fire Outside Navy Base.”  This article is published by the associated press.

I feel that each article successfully covers the event. They do not jump to conclusions, make brash accusations, or demoralize the victims.  Also, they both neglect to cover the most prominent and perplexing issue at hand: ‘why’.

Times writer, Alan Blinder, erratically transitions from present to past tense.  Blinder states: “The men, who were each shot once in their lower extremities, were being treated at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis and were expected to recover.”  Blinder never says if the soldiers recovered or not.  Additionally, he neglects to obtain quotes from civilians, soldiers, families, or bystanders.

Both the NY Times and WSJ articles need to follow up on their facts, quotes, and overall story.  The WSJ article states: “The shooter was a recruiter who had been relieved of duty, said a law enforcement official briefed on the developments.”  This statement is very vague because it doesn’t say when he was laid off or fired.  It could mean that he was relieved of his duty as soon as he “fired his weapon” and injured some of his former officers.  Conversely, it could indicate that he was relieved of his duty two weeks ago and had come back to express his disagreement and rage.  Furthermore it doesn’t state why he was laid off (which could be a definite contributing factor to his behavior on Thurs.).

It’s important to demonstrate what provoked the former recruiter to open fire.

We can’t expect these soldiers to fight overseas if they are fighting their own demons.

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