From 2005 – 2010, Gavin Long served with the Marine Corps as a data network specialist. This included a deployment to Iraq. In 2016, he ambushed and murdered three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Within days, his military deployment to Iraq and reports of PTSD were center stage. He was just the latest crazed service member to commit murder. Just another statistic of the failed behavioral health approach from the military.
Except he wasn’t. He never participated in combat while in Iraq. He never fired a bullet or received fire from the enemy. The closest he ever got to the enemy were videos that he said his friends showed him which depicted maimed and decapitated bodies.
Diagnosed with adjustment disorder with depressed mood by behavioral health specialists, he eventually left the service. During a PTSD psychological evaluation, he claimed that he did not watch war movies, and did not experience tenderness or love. Although prescribed anti-depressants, there was not a determination of a mental health condition that met the criteria of PTSD.
In 2012, Long visited a VA hospital in Georgia and denied having any mental health symptoms or adjustment issues. Instead, he had been displaying more and more aggressiveness and encouraging violent responses to what he saw as violence directed against African Americans by police officers. This aggression may have been encouraged by the violent attack on police officers only ten days prior by Micah Johnson, another service member, which killed five police officers in Dallas.
The reality is that neither his military service, his deployment to Iraq nor his discomfort watching war movies caused these actions. The government’s behavioral health specialists did not fail Long. He is not a statistic of a broken system. Instead, he is a murderer. Repeated posts were made to social media identifying with the Dallas, Texas gunman, and declaring that protesting solves nothing, people must directly fight back.
Baton Rouge police officers Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald, and East Baton Rouge Sherriff’s Deputy Brad Garafola were performing the honorable functions inherent in their job duties. They were protecting and serving their community when they were gunned down. Another three officers were wounded, with one critically. Long was eventually gunned down by the SWAT team.
There are simple realities that must be understood about this story. The first, and most fundamental, is that the actions performed were the conscious and deliberate decision by the shooter. They were intended to kill or injure as many first responders as possible, and were only cut short by the continued police response of the Baton Rouge department. Secondly, media and people need to stop seeking justifications or mitigation in past military experiences.
PTSD is an issue. Many of us deal with it. It is not a justification for criminal activity. It is no more relevant to the conversation than whether or not the criminal was employed or unemployed at the time. Jumping to conclusions and making claims of PTSD is demonstrative of the poor media coverage that happens after an incident when each news organization rushes to release the latest news. Media would benefit from delaying anonymous reporting to actually identify fact.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.