Fence jumper brings issue of troubled veterans to Obama’s door
From the Washington Post – Shad Meshad, president and founder of the National Veterans Foundation, thinks Obama should talk to Gonzalez. “He has an opportunity,” Meshad said of Obama, “to sit down and show he has the you-know-what to listen to someone who was that disturbed and served his country,” Meshad said. “Maybe there’s something to learn.”
The man who jumped the fence at the White House, Omar J. Gonzalez, served three tours of duty in Iraq, according to his public defender.
When a man carrying a knife scaled the White House fence and was arrested inside the mansion Friday evening, an issue President Obama has been grappling with for years – troubled veterans returning from combat – literally landed in his entryway.
The country has contended with the issue of veterans coming home with mental wounds for as long as it has sent soldiers into war. But the issue has taken on an increased urgency during Obama’s years in office, as Obama has wound down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands of combat veterans have returned. Veteran health care — both mental and physical — has come into sharp focus as scandals involving wait lists to see doctors rocked the Veterans Administration earlier this year.
The man who jumped the fence at the White House, Omar J. Gonzalez, served three tours of duty in Iraq, according to his public defender. His family said he was a sniper. His medical records have not been released, but his former stepson told The Post that Gonzalez suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Gonzalez’s ex-wife told an NBC affiliate in Indianapolis that her former husband had been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is unclear if Gonzalez was diagnosed before or after his tours in Iraq; during one tour his wife said he suffered a traumatic incident he could not talk about.
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The worst part of war should not be coming home.