[Originally posted on the Quaker House blog by me, cross-posted here.]
A tragic standoff with police and death of the barricaded individual occurred a few days ago in North Carolina. More details were released in a Fayetteville Observer article, today.
A few things stand out in the article:
- The veteran who barricaded himself and shot at police, Kevin Battaglia, was described as a “good soldier who lost his way after he left the Army” and that “his demons were catching up to him.”
- He was apparently diagnosed with PTSD and was frustrated by his experience with the VA Hospital.
- “He turned to an extreme grasp of faith to where that was the only thing he was concerned with.”
- Photographs he posted showed “a Bible on top of a bulletproof vest and an American flag draped on the rifle.”
Was Kevin Battaglia suffering from moral injury in addition to or rather than PTSD? They have overlapping symptoms, and his turn to religion may have been an attempt to deal with any moral injury components.
The photos highlight a concerning trend — the militarization and patriotism/nationalism-alignment of religion that we sometimes see. We are quick to notice when it happens in non-Christian religions, but do we recognize this in Christian expressions of religion?
Regardless, a “good soldier,” (ie, I imagine a good person, who was also described as intelligent) suffered mental anguish and eventually died a tragic death that appears to have had components of suicide-by-cop. Our soldiers–our family members and friends–are being wounded by their experiences of war. Sometimes these wounds are invisible, but terribly deep and exacting.
Can we work toward peace? Can we do more to help veterans when they return?
One of his friends is mentioned as having reached out to Kevin recently. His friend also regrets not having done more. We thank him for reaching out to Kevin, and our hearts go out to him and all the friends and family who are now left with wounds of their own to heal.