The Other American Sniper

The Dallas Observer cracks me up on most days; between the Pete Delkus worship and Jim Schutze, there’s plenty to find amusing. But this excellent long piece on the failures of the VA to help mentally ill, violent veterans suffering from PTSD is compelling and horrifying reading. Key point towards the end:

Sometime this month, Castañeda will be transferred from the Comal County jail to the North Texas State Hospital for treatment; it’s unclear how long he’ll remain there. Six days after Castañeda’s verdict, a jury ruled that Eddie Ray Routh knew right from wrong when he killed Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield.

The two Texas men are in some ways mirror images of each other. Each was hospitalized numerous times for mental illness after returning from war. On February 17, in courtrooms on opposite ends of the state, both mothers testified how the VA discharged their sons in the days preceding their violent breakdowns and how they unsuccessfully urged doctors to recommit the men.

The cases diverge in other important ways. Routh killed two men; Castañeda’s two victims are his greatest advocates. A jury sent one Marine to prison for life. A judge sent the other to a mental institution.

Against that backdrop, friends and supporters have made sure to congratulate Maria on the outcome of her son’s case — treatment over prison. It’s an odd sentiment that’s hard to process, she says. “It’s sort of hard to hear…He’s mentally ill, he doesn’t want to be mentally ill and we’ve just wanted him to get proper treatment for all of these years.”

Read the whole thing. It’s worth the time.

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