Billy Davis and supporting our veterans
Sunday, August 11, 2013 10:00 PM
In this month's edition of the American Legion Auxiliary Magazine, there is an article titled, "Hurting Heros Dark Places," discussing the drastic increase of service members committing suicide. Since 2001 more than 2700 service members committed suicide. In 2012 alone, there was a record high 350. That outnumbered combat deaths in Afghanistan. And it was more than double the military suicides from a decade ago. This sudden increase started in 2006, and jumped to a then-record 310 in 2009. We'll get back to that topic in a minute.
This article was co-authored by Carl Pearson (Veterans of Foreign Wars, 6th District Commander), John Pickerill (Chairman of Montgomery County Republican Central Committee), and Justin Smith (Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1431 Commander).
Last week it was reported in the local newspapers that police were called to the residence of City Councilman Billy Davis for the third time within a month. They reported that Davis was brandishing a firearm and making threats, and past incidents of making strange posts to his social media websites, and a domestic disturbance. As expected, people are questioning whether these actions are consistent with someone we want serving on City Council, and not surprisingly are pushing for him to resign. Pointing a firearm in someone's face is a serious charge that is a clear violation of another's rights. No one has the right to make acts of aggression against someone else unless it is in self defense. And the criminal investigation and due process of law will determine the facts.
What wasn't emphasized in the newspapers, however, was that Mr. Davis is a combat veteran, serving in both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army, and serving combat tours in both Bosnia and Iraq. Billy left a whole person. He came back broken. He sustained more than just physical wounds while there. He, like so many war veterans, are returning with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Mental health injuries are difficult enough for the victim to understand and deal with, but pile on top of that, that other people have a hard time understanding it as well. Others might not be aware that the veteran's unusual behavior is as a result of combat. As a result, many people jump to conclusions or alienate him or her. This makes it doubly frustrating.
We as a society have a certain responsibility to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who we send in harm's way. They went willingly, not knowing if they would come back at all. They went with the purpose of protecting their fellow countrymen. When they come back broken, we as a society owe it to them to help them, to be understanding to their injuries, especially when those injuries are PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury. I wonder if we would be so quick to ask for Councilman Davis' resignation if he had lost both of his legs, or some other more-obvious injury. People who know Billy Davis well all say that his heart is in the right place, that he is truly concerned about helping people, and he wants what's best for his community. My gut feeling is that he wants what's best for the City Council, too, and will probably resign on his own because of it. And he would do it when he is ready, not because anyone is trying to force him to.
Telling a veteran, "thank you for your service," is a kind gesture. But if you really want to support the troops who went over, be as understanding as possible to what they're dealing with. That doesn't mean you have to condone criminal activity. It just means that we as fellow Americans take some responsibility in caring for our returning war veterans. They fought for you.
To avoid this mess in the future, we all as citizens can support the troops on active duty today by telling the President and Congress to never go to war unless it's absolutely necessary, and morally justifiable. And then demand Congress formally declare war first, as required by the Constitution, so that they will be held accountable. Too easily and too quickly our politicians have sent our fighting men and women into combat without thinking about the consequences. Every time our politicians do this, our service members pay the price, too often coming back broken or dead or not at all. Even today they are trying to get our military involved in Syria and Iran. Maybe before we jump on their bandwagon we should ask ourselves, "is it so important to get involved with Syria or Iran that I'd be willing to have my son come back home with severe PTSD or a TBI?" That should be the litmus test.