September 24, 2014

Fence jumper brings issue of troubled veterans to Obama’s door

Featuring Phillip Carter

Source: The Washington Post

Journalist Katie Zezima

When a man carrying a knife scaled the White House fence and was arrested inside the mansion Friday evening, an issue President Obama has been grappling with for years - troubled veterans returning from combat - literally landed in his entryway.

The country has contended with the issue of veterans coming home with mental wounds for as long as it has sent soldiers into war.  But the issue has taken on an increased urgency during Obama's years in office, as Obama has wound down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands of combat veterans have returned. Veteran health care -- both mental and physical -- has come into sharp focus as scandals involving wait lists to see doctors rocked the Veterans Administration earlier this year.

The man who jumped the fence at the White House, Omar J. Gonzalez, served three tours of duty in Iraq, according to his public defender. His family said he was a sniper. His medical records have not been released, but his former stepson told The Post that Gonzalez suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Gonzalez's ex-wife told an NBC affiliate in Indianapolis that her former husband had been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is unclear if Gonzalez was diagnosed before or after his tours in Iraq; during one tour his wife said he suffered a traumatic incident he could not talk about.

Read the full article at The Washington Post

  • Phillip Carter

    Senior Fellow and Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Phillip Carter is Senior Fellow and Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security.  His research focuses on issues facing v...