When I first heard about a homeless man in Killeen being arrested for pretty much being in the wrong place at the wrong time and reacting when police laid hands on him, I was upset. I mean, if he’s homeless, then isn’t it pretty much kicking someone when they’re down to aggressively question someone and then arrest them for not taking kindly to being manhandled?
But when I found out that 31-year-old Jeremiah Arrington was a combat veteran suffering from severe post-traumatic stress — bad enough for the Army to put him on some pretty heavy anti-psychotics and medically retire him — I got down-right ticked off.
It’s bad enough our veterans are suffering from poor post-service care, but in an area so heavy in active-duty military and veterans, you would think the police would at least first ask the person they are interacting with if he is actively serving or is a veteran before eliciting a reaction that is simply automatic for pretty much anyone who has spent time in a combat zone.
While Arrington is thankfully getting his medications now, we still don’t know if he is getting the treatment he needs while spending time in the Bell County Jail. On a $100,000 bond.
While Arrington’s case is pretty extreme — and I fully intend to continue looking into this matter — there are too many programs available out in the private sector that are run by fellow combat veterans to continue allowing our brothers and sisters affected by war to end up behind bars. It is our duty to ensure our comrades are aware of those programs when they need them — and ensure they take advantage of them before a similar, or worse, fate befalls them.
Each veteran organization in the area — whether it is the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Women’s Army Corps or a host of others — has someone you can talk to who has been in your shoes at one time or another. There are even organizations such as Bring Everyone into the Zone which offer weekly counseling sessions for combat vets, both those on and off active duty, run by fellow combat vets.
These people are the answer to “No one knows what I’m going through.” Because they do.
Whether it is PTSD, stress from too much time in the field, sexual trauma, marital problems or substance abuse, there is someone who can help. Even if you’re on active duty and would rather not go through the many fine programs the Army has available.
We have to take care of those no longer on active duty — those are the brothers and sisters we should most be concerned about.
If you have any ideas on other issues I should follow up on, please let me know. I have no problem being a bulldog with a bone.