Navy Yard Mass Shooting, from a Veteran’s Perspective

Today around 8:20 am, a man identified as Aaron Alexis decided to disturb the peace at a Naval facility, the Navy Yard, in Washington. Throughout the day CNN, as well as other news stations, reported that police, military security, and FBI were arriving on the scene trying to transport people to safety and catch the gunmen. It’s believed that he had help from another man, but authorities are still searching for him. Regardless of whether it was two men or not, the fact remains that there was an open fire at a Naval facility where over 3,000 service members and civilian employees worked, 12 of which were killed and another possible 12 injured.

According to the Washington Post, this shooter was said to have been in the Navy Reserve, but then discharged after he was arrested in a shooting incident. He was then hired as a government subcontractor. This man served. He served in the U.S. Navy, as a reservist. A person who more than likely worked two weeks out of the year and worked two weekends a month, depending on what type of contract he was on. The point is that he served. The man had once dawned the uniform of a United States Sailor. While working as a government contractor he was using the skills that he gained while in the service to continue to make a living. He had a job. Now, as I look at television news and skim through my twitter news feed, it pains me to continue to keep seeing this horrible story of the shooting at the Navy Yard. I am so emotionally disturbed by every piece of article I have read, and by the facts I have written above, that I am almost at a lost for words. As a veteran of the U.S. Navy, and a proud one at that, I am disgusted, appalled and sadden by the fact that this man had entered a naval facility, using his security clearance that he had because his job, and brought death to people that thought it was just another day at work.

Where’s the motivation? What could have possibly made this man go cuck-coo and just unleash cruelty on innocent people? People who were just going about their every day lives working, handling business, and I don’t know – serving their country. Really though? This man was said to have been a practicing Buddhist, but one who also had anger management problems. A man who, according to the Washington Post in documents posted by Seattle police, was an active participant in rescue attempts after Sept. 11 2001 terrorist attacks, but was said to have “accidentally” fired a shot through the ceiling of his apartment in 2010 while cleaning his gun. Clearly, everything wasn’t all there with that guy. Maybe he had loose screws. Maybe he was mentally disturbed. Whatever the case may have been, lives were lost. People have been injured and now America is yet again in grief. How many mass shooting must we go through until we realize that it doesn’t really matter, no one is ever really safe. First we had the Batman Movie in Colorado mass shooting, and then the next biggie was the Connecticut elementary school massacre. That’s not to say that those were the only mass shootings. Aviva Shen and Adam Peck at Think Progress report that there had been at least 14 mass shootings in the past 6 months, and the report was written in June! It’s safe to say that we can now add another one – four months later. They also note, “Mass shootings, which ThinkProgress defined for this purpose as random gun-related incidents, usually in a public area and resulting in either multiple injuries or death, are still only a fraction of the gun violence that plagues Americans all over the country every day. On May 31, the number of people killed by guns since Newtown [Connecticut Massacre] surpassed the number of American troops killed during the entire Iraq War… .”

We are losing more people from our own hands then we are from the past wars. Even President Barack Obama stated earlier Monday “… They know the dangers of serving abroad, but today they faced the unimaginable violence that we wouldn’t have expected here at home,” as reported on CNN. So basically, forget losing people in war, now we’re having to worry about the next person that may be sitting next to us.

Each person thats passed has had family members waiting for them, people who took care of them and in some cases depended on them, and just like that a person with loose screws and bad intent can just come and take that precious life away. Sure, it’s happens and apparently its happening almost every other month in America, but it needs to stop. We have enough trouble dealing with other countries, why are we bringing this hatred among us? Why are we using our own hands to kill one another? It doesn’t add up.

I expect security procedures everywhere, but especially in government owned facilities and every armed force base to increase and tighten. Civilian employees and service members will more than likely be subject to go through a vigorous security screening and training because of the shooting. Certain priveleges will more probably be taken away. I use to complain and whine, when I was in the service about all the different security measures I had to go through on certain days (and I had a security clearance); however, now, I’d gladly follow those procedures as everyone should. I know it won’t weed out the crazy’s, but every little bit counts; which means talking to the next person who has it rough, or seems to have a problem and taking the time to show them someone cares.

It’s a harsh reality that we have no control over, but if one person can try and make a difference, then we definitely should try. Every little bit counts.

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