The casualties of war are well known -- not only those who are killed during duty, but those who are physically and emotionally scarred. And does anyone really come back from a war zone not emotionally scarred in some respect? But you hope that by the time a servicemember has been out of the warzone for decades, things have gone back to normal emotionally. But we will never really know. Just like we will never really know what prompted 68-year-old Vietnam War vet Robert Garza, Sr., to reportedly kill his wife, his daughter, his 15-year-old granddaughter, and then himself.
The four members of the Garza family were all tragically found dead upstairs in two bedrooms in the house they shared in Defiance County, Ohio. Authorities believe that Garza used a handgun to kill his three family members and then himself.
Police say that Garza was a Vietnam vet who had been exposed to Agent Orange during the war. While police do not offer that up as an explanation for his behavior -- after all, plenty of people commit the same crime who were never exposed to deadly chemicals, and many exposed never commit crimes -- it does make you wonder.
Was Garza still fighting the demons he may have developed as a young man in such a horrible war? Or did he come home and develop even more deadlier demons?
It's well-established that war vets can suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder -- and unfortunately some of those victims will try to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. Others can become emotionally volatile, embittered, and fueled with rage.
Of course, many people who have never been to war can become all of that. The human race is a bittersweet mixture of awesome and horrific.
It's so important that veterans ask for help. Accept help. And admit if they are having problems emotionally. This is a horrible tragedy that, who knows, could have possibly been prevented if Garza had been able to get insight into the terrible frame of mind he was in and get help for it. Unfortunately it is too easy in this country for people who do reach this end-stage of rage and anger to get ahold of a gun and use it for the unspeakable.
If you are thinking of suicide or know anyone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
Do you think his vet status had anything to do with his state of mind?
Image via Alan Cleaver/Flickr