By Jay Kirell
Today’s New York Times Op-Ed section had a rather controversial opinion piece by Kathleen Belew on the history of white supremacists and the Army. In it, Belew writes about the shooting in Kansas by Frazier Glenn Miller, a noted white power advocate and veteran, who killed three people on Sunday:
“Mr. Miller obviously represents an extreme, both in his politics and in his violence. A vast majority of veterans are neither violent nor mentally ill. When they turn violent, they often harm themselves, by committing suicide. But it would be irresponsible to overlook the high rates of combat trauma among the 2.4 million Americans who have served in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the full impact of which has not yet materialized. Veterans of those conflicts represent just 10 percent of those getting mental health services through the Department of Veterans Affairs, where the overwhelming majority of those in treatment are still Vietnam veterans.”
This is an interesting piece, if only because the author makes a few interesting points about the history of the white power movement in America and how its members are oftentimes made up, partly, of military veterans. Where the author fails though, is in connecting the combat these veterans faced and the surrounding trauma, as somehow being a linchpin for otherwise noble veterans to fall prey to extremist groups.