A police standoff and hostage situation that lasted more than 24 hours over the weekend has landed a father of three in hot water, and shined a light on the plight of military veterans struggling to find help here on American soil. Cops in Latonia, Kentucky say Michael Vaughan, a decorated combat veteran, barricaded himself -- and his three kids -- in his home on Saturday, threatening to blow up the house.
As cops tried to negotiate for the release of Vaughan's three children -- a 5-year-old son, an 11-year-old daughter, and a 15-year-old son with autism were let out of the house early Sunday morning -- posts ostensibly written by Vaughan began appearing on a now-deleted Facebook page about his difficulties as a military vet.
As one screenshot shows, the posts blamed everyone from the Department of the Army to a Kentucky Senator for the standoff:
I appreciate everyone’s comments, but this is something that will happen. KY Guard has the blame ... along with the Dept. of the Army and Sen. Rand Paul’s office for not giving a damn about their wounded veterans who asked for help and failed to get it.
Unfortunately, Vaughan's complaints are far from rare. The government has been inundated with claims for assistance from veterans in recent years. Approximately 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for service-related injuries -- that's more than double the number of Gulf War veterans who put in for the same benefits.
Meanwhile, the mental health concerns are great. A report in 2012 estimated a third of Iraq and Afghanistan war vets treated by the VA suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is what some media say has affected Vaughan. Earlier this year, the VA admitted that veterans commit suicide at a shocking rate of 22 per day.
These numbers are all scary by themselves, but when we look at the situation at the Vaughan house, we're reminded that the numbers of those affected is even higher than those already mentioned. Because for every vet suffering from some sort of mental health issue now that they're home, there are family members who are suffering alongside them ... often children.
Vaughan's three kids never went to war, but now they've been through a police standoff with their dad. It's hard to say how much more they've been through living in that house.
They are victims too.
Fortunately, the kids were released unharmed, and while their dad was wounded by police -- he was shot in the arm -- the fact that no police were hurt in the gunfire volley should help his case in the end.
He will likely be charged with attempted murder of a police officer and will be held on a mental health warrant.
Hopefully he gets the help he needs, not only for his sake, but for his kids too. They deserve a dad who can really be a dad to them.
Do you know a veteran who is struggling to readjust? What kind of help are they getting?
Image via police