Everybody claims to honor our veterans. The anti-war activists that despised President Bush “supported” the troops. Such support is often expressed as concern about the levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome experienced by returning veterans.
Veterans often deal with high levels of stress. The public’s perception that veterans may harm themselves and others can contribute to stress. The perception is fostered by mainstream media outlets like the New York Times.
A spokesperson for a mental health provider that works with the VA and veterans told me that veteran’s gun rights are not important. Her main concern was ensuring that vets did not blow their brains out- supposedly it is a small price to pay if vets lose their gun rights. Why should a veteran trust such professionals who regard Constitutional rights with such a cavalier attitude?
Returning veterans are justifiably upset. Legislation has already been enacted by which the Veterans Administration reports mental health concern to other agencies. There is now a procedure for depriving a veteran of the right to possess firearms without a finding of mental illness by a judge. There is little due process and getting the rights restored is very difficult.
Medical providers may already be required to disclose mental health records to government bureaucrats. Remember- disgruntled veterans with guns are the people that Homeland Security told us fit the profile for lone-wolf terrorists. The healthcare system, including the private sector, is on its way to uniform record-keeping that will interface electronically with the federal healthcare system.
Many doctors (especially within the public health sector) are already asking patients questions dealing with whether the patient has guns in the home, how guns are stored and whether trigger locks are utilized.
Although there are HIPAA laws that keep medical records confidential, the federal government has passed many laws that are buried in thousands of pages of legislation already enacted. The sponsors of such laws often have no idea what is contained in these laws!
We advise veterans and others not to seek counseling from mental health professionals where the federal government can gain access to any records- now or in the future.
Studies indicate that a returning combat veteran experiences stress at least partly due to reactions from family and friends that imagine a propensity for violence on the part of a veteran. Thus, the perceptions of others toward the vet are often more devastating than the stress of combat.
Ironically, our modern repugnance to any armed force is at least partly due to complacency bred by peace and freedom for which our warriors fought, killed and died. One antidote to PTSD is deep religious faith that recognizes and honors the values demonstrated by warriors on the battlefield. There have been studies showing that soldiers, sailors and law enforcement officers deal better with violent experiences when they are connected to a faith community that honors warrior values as a highly regarded calling and held in high esteem. There is a strong basis in Scripture for such Warrior values.