Battleland

American Cipher: 1 in 2.5 Million

  • Share
  • Read Later
Erath County Sheriff’s Office / AP

Eddie Ray Routh, charged in the murder of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and another vet.

You probably only learned over the weekend about only one of the more than 2.5 million U.S. military veterans who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11. That would be Eddie Ray Routh, 25, a onetime Marine who allegedly shot and killed Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and a second military veteran at a gun range south of Fort Worth on Saturday.

We need to be careful not to overlearn anything from this tragedy just yet. Routh allegedly killed Kyle, 38, and Chad Littlefield, 35, as Kyle was trying to ease Routh back into the civilian world.

Kyle’s killing makes for a compelling tale, which no doubt explains why it was the lead story on the Sunday evening newscasts of ABC and NBC, the two broadcast networks not carrying Super Bowl XLVII.

All the pieces fell neatly into place: Routh is unemployed, perhaps afflicted with PTSD, and his scraggly beard made for an arresting mug shot. His famous and handsome victim, Chris Kyle, wrote American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, which made the New York Times best-seller list last year. He was married, a father of two and spent a lot of time trying to help fellow veterans find their way back into American society.

“People look at Kyle’s death as tragic because he survived so much at war,” said Brock McNabb, who served as an Army mental-health worker in Iraq, “only to be killed in the middle of a philanthropic act in the middle of the country he loved so much.”

In an interview with TIME last year, Kyle said he was “not trying to glory myself.” Killing people at long range was his military mission. “The first time, you’re not even sure you can do it,” he said. “But I’m not over there looking at these people as people. I’m not wondering if he has a family. I’m just trying to keep my guys safe.” He had deployed four times to Iraq, where he was awarded a pair of Silver Stars for valor.

In his book, Kyle claimed to have killed more than 150 insurgents in Iraq. Pentagon officials said at the time of the book’s release that there is no formal census kept of sniper kills. But, like fellow Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, who wrote of the killing of Osama bin Laden, Kyle seemed ready to write of things that in previous wars had been kept secret. Military modesty, it seems, has become as much a relic as an M-1 carbine.

The killings raise a host of questions: Is the alleged killer a sociopath, simply eager to kill? To kill somebody famous? Did PTSD or some other malady drive him to shoot his two fellow veterans once they found themselves on a shooting range? Could he be a closet Islamist seeking revenge for the insurgents Kyle killed?

Routh has said nothing to suggest a motive. “I don’t know that we’ll ever know,” Captain Jason Upshaw of the Erath County sheriff’s office said. “He’s the only one that knows that.” Routh is the only surviving witness to the killings.

Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Routh “may have been suffering from some type of mental illness from being in the military himself.” The Pentagon said Routh had been a corporal in the Marines from 2006 to 2010 and deployed to Iraq in 2007–08 and Haiti in 2010.

“This simply further highlights the dangers of an inadequate treatment system that continues to cost service members, both active and retired, their lives,” says Rob Kumpf, who served with the Army in Afghanistan and Iraq and has had his own battles with mental-health issues since returning to the U.S.

Post-9/11 veterans are already grumbling that the media is rushing to blame the murders on Routh’s military service or PTSD or both. If the past weekend were average, there were more than 50 murders by firearms across the country. Most of them were not carried out by veterans or vets suffering from PTSD.

“We don’t actually know the alleged murderer’s mental state or background,” cautions Brandon Friedman, who served as a rifle platoon leader and executive officer with the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan and Iraq. “And second, it’s important to remember that combat PTSD is complex. Those who struggle with PTSD are far more likely to harm themselves than others. Likewise, having PTSD does not signify a propensity to commit murder. There is no empirical correlation, other than what Hollywood portrays.”

His reference to Hollywood fits. The same rush to judgment happened following the Vietnam War, when crimes committed by a relatively few veterans of that conflict were used to tar an entire generation. Movies like Coming Home, The Deer Hunter and Taxi Driver drilled into the public’s mind that many troops who served in Southeast Asia in the late 1960s and early 1970s were mentally deranged, if not downright dangerous.

For millions of Americans of draft age who dodged serving in Vietnam, the films served as after-the-fact justification for their inactions and morphed from celluloid to certitude.

The nation tarnished an entire generation that carried out the orders they’d been given. It’d be a crime of the first order to do so again.

49 comments
bradleyshort3
bradleyshort3

Wtf the title or even the first damn paragraph make any since. If any cristisim or negative feedback needs to be given it should be directed at the sorry excuse for a president we have. No matter what the cause or who supposably murdered this hero he was none the less than a hero. Yes I'm sure many men need to be recognized but this man had every right to have our so called commander and chief attend his burial. I think it's an absolute disgrace to acknowledge a drug overdosed singer and not a war hero. Then let's not mention the praise for the gay rights he believes in. I really tried to like this man we have for a leader but I think my 10 year old could do a better job than him. Hell I think my beagle hound could do better hell Sarah palin could do better. Get the hell out of this country Obama and don't worry about being missed because nobody likes you. Oh yea you friendly loving EMO leader that's right the most friendliest prez we've ever had to the cause. Get the hell out and don't let the WHITE house door hit you in the ass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DavidHeide
DavidHeide

"Dodged serving in Vietnam"?  Draft resisters ACTIONS to that unjust and corrupt war were, by far, more moral than the blind unthinking obedience required to participate in it.

BettyGibbs8
BettyGibbs8

Jayden. true that Mary`s stori is flabbergasting, I just purchased a new Aston Martin DB5 after having made $9736 this-last/4 weeks and-more than, ten-grand last-month. with-out any question its my favourite-job Ive ever done. I began this 4 months ago and practically straight away brought home over $80.. per-hour. I use the details here,Great60.comTAKE A LOOK

DontRush
DontRush

A father who made money recounting the cool efficiency with which he killed 150 people, while ignoring the consequences to their families--killed by a fellow soldier, a soldier who seems unable to comprehend the consequences of murder.  A fascinating and disquieting story.

wildturnip
wildturnip

Why was Kyle considered a hero? He murdered by his count 150+ humans. He called them "insurgents". What's that supposed to mean. They were folks fighting against the invasion of their country. He was proud he did not consider their personal stories. We continue to sip the Kool-Aid that "while we might have been a little mistaken in going into Iraq our boys and girls are heroes." Nope. They were on a mission to kill. By the way, democracy can be neither imposed nor defended from the barrel of a gun.

DennisR.Martinez
DennisR.Martinez

It is very noble that he wanted to help fellow veterans. I just wonder what kind of preparation or training he had to deal with them. I sincerely doubt that a trained psychologist or counselor would recommend a gun range for a patient suffering from PTSD.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

I have nothing personal against any of the people involved, but one does have to wonder what the hell they were thinking by taking someone who was (by many accounts) mentally traumatized by the effects of war to a GUN RANGE.

My biggest complaint after the rate of fire of modern firearms is the human nature involved in the way people interact with them.  People may THINK they feel empathy or understand someone else, and I applaud the efforts of those who give of themselves to help others.  But the sad fact is, when dealing with someone with mental issues, you can not know their state of mind.  The complacency most gun owners show toward their firearms is often demonstrated in their posts.  "Guns are just like any tool."  Well, I imagine people smash their thumbs with hammers a hell of a lot mroe than they cut them off on band saws because they use a hammer all the time, become complacent with it and become lazy.  Another smashed thumb.

Guns do a hell of a lot more damage than that.

People - whether gun owners or not - tend to become complacent with things they are familiar with, and that's when accidents happen.  But in the sad case of Mr.Routh and Mr. Kyle, the familiarity seems to have led to tragedy.  No one expects someone smacked by a hammer to pick one up and start hitting other people with it.  It's just a tool, after all.  They view it as such.  But to the person with the smacked thumb, it's a reminder of the pain, anguish, terror and fifty other god-awful emotions one experienced because of it.  They lash out.  A person lashing out with a hammer isn't likely to kill anyone unless they get too close.  A person lashing out with a gun can kill people hundreds or thousands of yards away.

Complacency in dealing with the tool, and failing to understand the mindset of someone who is reminded of their suffering in connection with that tool, conspired to create a situation in which tragically poor judgement was used in trying to help someone traumatized in combat to "get back on the horse" (At least I ASSUME that was the idea there.  I can't imagine any other excuse for taking someone with combat-induced shell-shock out to a GUN RANGE!).  It was just a tool to them.  But to Mr. Routh, it had become a much different, more horrible thing.

This is how humans react, and how humans fail to understand each other.  The firearm is only secondary to this situation even if in a very tragic way.  Each party was being "responsible" in their lights.  It's just that sometimes, each person sees a different light.  One could say that hopefully, for others in the future, the highly ill-advised nature of taking someone who has been so traumatized by combat that they require some kind of intervention to a gun range will be far more clear.  And one could also say that, hopefully, people will begin to see the difference in how tools should always, always, always be handled.

Sadly, given that fact the root cause of this terrible episode was, in fact, human nature itself, and no amount of tragedy will ever change THAT, the lessons this sad event may have taught will eventually be lost on those who most  needed to learn them.

grousefeather
grousefeather

One question that looms large as a result of this event is whether veterans with PTSD should be allowed to possess guns.  

superlogi
superlogi

I didn't mind that so many of the people of my generation dodged the draft and/or became expatriates of countries without extradition treaties that would bring them back to this country and tarred as cowards and traitors, people who decided it was better for other people to fight and die for their country, rather than be exposed to those possibilities themselves.  My only problem with them was that after all that fighting and dying ended, they were allowed to come back and breed. 

superlogi
superlogi

@DavidHeide Blind unthinking obedience which kept you're silly dumb ass from tyranny and your first language, English.  Isn't ironic that a liberal President who crafted the "Great Society" sent this country to war to stop the expansion of Marxism in SE Asia, and today we have a Marxist running the country.

mrbk
mrbk

@DontRush The people he killed smiled at the fact that 3,000 people, including many of their own faith, died in a mass murder, in case you needed clarification. The people he killed decided to ignore the consequences of their actions, thus ignoring the consequences their actions had on their own families all for the sake of their beliefs. I'm not so much saying I am right, as much as I am saying you are wrong. 

ChrisBenavidez
ChrisBenavidez

@DennisR.Martinez You realize your hypocrisy when you question Kyle's experience in dealing with PTSD by making a statement that a psychologist or counselor wouldn't treat PTSD with a gun range? Are you a psychologist or counselor?

bradleyshort3
bradleyshort3

Hey re re guns don't kill people f..kin jack offs like u do. I can take a knife or pencil or paper clip for that matter and kill that doesn't mean it's not therapeutic to shoot a gun. Several vets take their anger or stress out at the range guess you don't know any of these people or you would understand better. Your about as intelligent as our sorry ass prez or so called prez more like a running joke to the whole world. Pack up and move out you and him it you don't like it here please do us all the favor.

wrathbrow
wrathbrow

@grousefeather  

Mental heath checks for people who want to own a gun makes sense to the majority of Americans. I would guess there are different levels of PTSD and effects on people, so some perhaps should still be able to own a gun, some should not.

LesMoore
LesMoore

@superlogi So it was OK if they came back - just not OK for them to come back and breed.

amphibo
amphibo

@superlogi Why the author even digressed back to the Viet Nam era and what it has to do with the story is beyond me. The 'millions' of draft dodgers were more like 200,000. Our involvement in Vietnam came on the heels of the French colonial occupation of the country that created the quagmire we ended up in the first place. As someone from a military family that worked hard to end the conflict I found many veterans who were disillusioned with a campaign that killed 50,000+ Americans and over 2 million Vietnamese. Sadly, lessons from the domino theory of communism seemed to have been forgotten a long time ago.

mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

@superlogiSo, we should all do what our country tells us, no matter how immoral we think it is? Those who fought in Viet Nam should be proud of their service. There's no question about that. But whether or not we should have sent our young folks there in the first place is debatable.

I don't doubt that many the fled the draft did so out of cowardice, but I think we should acknowledge that many did so because of deep moral convictions against the war. To suggest that it's bad that they breed is to suggest that our country shouldn't debate issues that lead to death and suffering.

The day we ALL agree we should go to war is the day our country won't deserve the sacrifices our military makes for us all.

DavidHeide
DavidHeide

on behalf of those who are (lol) ever so grateful for having the privilege to continue to speak English, thank you (not).   

and by the way, the likelihood that some brainwashed-to-be-bloodthirsty corporate automaton'll keep me from tyranny couldn't get much closer to zero.  


I'm a big fan of reality, you see, and even though I was in NYC when the towers went down, in Beijing when their missiles flew over Taiwan, in Jerusalem when the intafada was raging, the only effect I can see all the subsequent backroom-by-proxy violence has is to  make scumbags wealthier and poor, honest folk more and more miserable.

Marxist? give me a break.  He's just another scumbag, like the last few great manipulators before him.   


wildturnip
wildturnip

@mrbk @DontRush Still drinking the Iraq caused 9/11 Kool-Aid? Pathetic. Time to get a grasp on reality before you slip completely over the edge.

wildturnip
wildturnip

@mrbk @wildturnip Would you care to explain what you meant or are you incapable of writing in complete sentences?

DennisR.Martinez
DennisR.Martinez

@ChrisBenavidez @DennisR.Martinez I didn't say a psychologist wouldn't. I said I sincerely doubt it. That puts it squarely in the arena of personal opinion which is what the majority of these posts are. Anyway, I think you need to look up the definition of hypocrisy.

superlogi
superlogi

@amphibo @superlogi There were millions, many of whom like Joe Biden got military deferments based on phony information.  And the number of American dead was close to 60,000 and over 300,000 wounded and maimed.  With regard to the number of Vietnamese who died, they died in a civil war.  But if you want to count the real number of casualties, it includes 20% of the Cambodian population and hundreds of thousands of both Vietnamese and Laos after we left.  Oh, and the domino theory turned out to be correct.  Unfortunately, we as a country weren't up to the job to stop it.  The Chinese had it right.  We're paper tigers.

superlogi
superlogi

@mtngoatjoe @superlogi I don't mind them breeding.  I simply would rather they contribute their genetic predisposition toward cowardice to some other country.  The following quote is from a very liberal philosopher/economist who says it much better than I can.


War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.John Stuart Mill
English economist & philosopher (1806 - 1873)

DavidHeide
DavidHeide

ummm... i don't particularly like bread.  what's your point?  that it's better to mistreat others rather than being mistreated?  sorry, but it sounds like six of one or half a dozen of the other.  how many times must non-christians have to remind a christian country of its professed values?

superlogi
superlogi

@DavidHeideYou mean after standing in a bread line each morning for a couple of hours.

Paca Tovarisch

DavidHeide
DavidHeide

I wouldn't have loved to have learned both.  reading Nietzsche and Dostoevsky in their native tongues would have kept me entranced for years.

superlogi
superlogi

@DavidHeideYes, he's a Marxist scumbag.  With regard to what language you speak.  Given your posts, I think you would have enjoyed either German or Russian as your first language. 

89thMPs
89thMPs

@DavidHeide If you don't like what MY country does or what WE (who have the balls to serve) do to LET people like you run your mouth without the fear of consequence then feel free to pack all your crap and leave. You don't have to live here in this great country. I love how people love to bitch about how "the U.S. did this and the U.S. did that". Oh well! Should have fought smarter! Should have fought harder! I do not apologize for what me or my brother and sisters in arms have done to make this co

untry great. So you sit there and be the good little keyboard warrior you are and WE will keep giving you that right. 

DavidHeide
DavidHeide

you don't have to believe that 9/11 was an inside job (i don't) to think that pinning it on Iraq was the vilest piece of bunkum that's been laid upon the US electorate since it was fed the gulf of tonkin.

Talk about smiling, the entire US way of life is a smile over the genocide and lies that it's founded on -and that's besides the seemingly unending history of subsequent violent manipulations on foreign and our own soil .  so please spare everyone the attempt at justifications.  

What this guy did, whether he knew it or not, was to assist in imposing by force the dictates of a select privileged few so that they could  extract and manipulate as much as possible from a enormous geopolitical landmass on the other side of the world at the cost of only spilling the blood of those muddled-minded or economically distressed enough to volunteer to kill and die for them.

tomasmagic
tomasmagic

@mrbk @wildturnip @DontRush Chris Kyle wasn't the most likable person.  He seemed arrogant and honestly, who brags about killing people?  Who brags about sucker punching another SEAL?  Iraqui soldiers have their "Chris Kyle-like soldiers."  I'm sure they're just as highly praised. 

mrbk
mrbk

@wildturnip @mrbk @DontRush Not everything is a conspiracy, and if it is, not every soldier is a bad man. I didn't say anything about Iraq, and if you want to believe 9/11 was an inside job, that still doesn't change who Chris Kyle is as a person. You were putting it in a way that sounded personal. 

mrbk
mrbk

@tomasmagic @mrbk @wildturnip I respect individuals who are willing to respect other individuals. I am not patriotic in the sense that I have love for some political faction. My opinion at the end of the day isn't worth more than anyone else's. America will come and go as all things. Those people are trying to promote infallible ideas just as fake as the American dream. I don't fall for the American dream bs, don't fool yourself. I am almost sorry for calling your comments ignorant except for the fact that you are so quick to judge. Restrepo is a good doc to watch before you judge the U.S. troops. I really don't have much more to say. We are all confused and frustrated. Nothing makes sense dude. People are all just trying to find their purpose, give their pointless opinions online that don't prove anything. All good, the world goes on without a blink. 

DavidHeide
DavidHeide

It'd be a wild stretch of imagination to believe that any thing going on in an Iraqi civil war could impinge on the right to sit behind a computer in the US and post things that are good, bad or indifferent.


There's two issues that people who are critical of Mr. Kyle's chosen profession and his behavior like to bring up: 1)Does simply following orders from prevailing authorities exonerate actions that would otherwise be deemed immoral?; and, 2)Even if it does (and I think it doesn't), are those methods the most effective strategy to achieve peaceful resolutions to ongoing conflicts?

tomasmagic
tomasmagic

@mrbk @wildturnip Actually, I do believe those people care about their country.  They're probably just as patrioticly brainwashed as you are.

mrbk
mrbk

@wildturnip @mrbk Let me try: Kyle, whether he is right or wrong in killing people, killed people because he believed it to be right just as surely as you believe it was wrong. And believe or not, he probably believed that he was giving you the right, whether he would like what you say about him or not, to boldly post things that you are probably not 100% sure of. The folks he was killing were people who were killing their own people. You really believe those cowards care about their country? They don't care about any such thing. Their motives are selfish, religious, and ignorant to the concern of others. So if not a hero for "murdering people" he could be considered a hero by protecting your rights to hate him openly for the world to see. One love.

DennisR.Martinez
DennisR.Martinez

@ChrisBenavidez@DennisR.MartinezI did not profess any feeling or virtue that I do not possess. Nor was I being false. As stated, I was being sincere. I think it is a perfectly reasonable question. Your reading comprehension is poor. Perhaps googling some examples of hypocrisy might help you. For example, Strom Thurmond being a segregationist while secretly having an affair with a woman of color and fathering her children. THAT"S hypocrisy. Kyle was a sniper. Not a psychologist. A background in dealing with patients would be invaluable. Did he have such a background? Why is this question silly? Do I have to be a doctor to question my doctor's experience before I choose to be treated by him? Do I have to be a mechanic to question if the mechanic who changes my oil is qualified to work on my fuel injectors? Questioning a man's experience is just that. Questioning. Now, had I said, "Clearly a patient with PTSD has no place at a gun range and this idiot should have known that," then I surely would be talking out of my a$$ as you are. It would still be an opinion, albeit an ignorant one. I merely raised the question of whether it was prudent and whether a trained person would have signed off on this? I don't know and don't claim to. But as I stated originally, I sincerely doubt it. Now, why don't you help me out by calling your friendly neighborhood PTSD counselor and asking them. Then we'll both know. Btw, my first post plainly establishes that I am not a psychologist or counselor which makes your response and all succeeding responses moot. Again, your reading comprehension needs work.

ChrisBenavidez
ChrisBenavidez

@DennisR.Martinez@ChrisBenavidez"The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness"...Questioning a mans professional counseling experience without having any yourself is Hypocrisy...opinion or not. You just have just left it at your first sentence.

Now that being said, you can have your opinion on the matter but just realize if its silly, someone can also call you on it. Which is what most of these posts are anyway...silly.

bradleyshort3
bradleyshort3

Amen brother guess these idiots don't value their freedoms about like our retarded commander and chief doesn't I say send his ass packin to.

89thMPs
89thMPs

@DavidHeide Right or wrong point your rifle at my fellow soldier and it will be the last thing you ever do in this life. Damn near everyone I served would tell you the same thing "We are not here because of 9/11. We are here to make sure we all go home". That's what the media, people like you, and everyone else around the world who loves to vilify us refuse to understand. It's not money, oil, or even the people we killed. It's about the man or woman next to us. The person who said without saying "Let's go, I got your back".

superlogi
superlogi

@mtngoatjoe True pacifists didn't have to carry a firearm.  But, in most instances, they did have to serve, many of whom did it as Corpsmen.  Now, I don't know if being a Quaker got you pass, but other than your religious belief, being a conscientious objector, definitely didn't.

superlogi
superlogi

@mtngoatjoe Not all, just most were.  For example, I had a very good friend who wouldn't serve and he spent two years in Sandstone for it.  In fact, he'd just passed his bar exam and it could have ruined his career because at the time felons couldn't practice law.  But, I'll leave you with this thought from a liberal philosopher/economist who said it best:


War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.John Stuart Mill
English economist & philosopher (1806 - 1873) 

mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

@superlogo:

You assume that all who dodged the draft either did so out of cowardice, or that they were pacifists unwilling to fight for any reason. I don't think that's true. True pacifists could get a deferment; they didn't need to dodge the draft. And I think it's disingenuous to say that those opposed to the war on moral grounds would not have fought for anything. Like with our invasion of Iraq, many people thought fighting in Viet Nam had nothing to do with preserving our American way of life.

So yeah, some who dodged the draft were cowards. But some of those that dodged felt the war was so immoral that they couldn't fight in it. I believe that many of the people you call cowards would have not hesitated to take up arms if North Viet Nam had invaded the United States.

Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, about 210,000 people dodged the draft, of which, only about 30,000 fled the country.

DavidHeide
DavidHeide

exertions do not equal fighting.  this shaming -an accusation of cowardice, really- is another one of the tactics used to get people to engage in the blind stupor that gets them to do things they know are wrong - like killing another human being.

We will all die relatively soon.  That is certain.  The only real question is whether killing another human being is worth having a few more moments before we go.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,105 other followers