America’s moral failure: Veteran health and the slide into oblivion

WESTBOROUGH, MA December 26, 2015 The topic of suicide among America’s war veterans comes up over and over when morbid stories become known – generally after the death of a former soldier, marine, or airman. This must raise the consciousness of each of us and greater attention to the health of our veterans is our moral duty. So far, the incidence of suicide among America’s war heroes seems not to have diminished in 2014.  22 veterans are said to commit suicide daily – more than are killed fighting in war. How is it possible that more is not being done for these men and women and their families?  A society unmoved by these facts is a moral failure.

Amy Miner now speaks out on PTSD (AP PHOTO – Holly Ramer

No greater failure comes to mind but the case of Kryn Miner, a Vermont veteran of 11 wartime deployments who was killed by his son in 2014 after threatening his family with a firearm. Miner was seriously injured in 2010 sustaining a TBI after a roadside blast threw him into a concrete wall. But it was not his first exposure to trauma. He returned to his home with a brain injury and PTSD and was unable to receive the treatment he needed to release his demons.  His wife Amy was quoted as saying “the truth of the matter is if we can’t take care of our veterans we shouldn’t be sending them off to war.”  Miner’s mental health slowly languished as he fought the fight to gain access for veteran’s health benefits.

America failed to provide for access to meet his basic needs causing both he and his family to suffer immeasurably.  Some might argue that Kryn Miner and his family represent the unconscionable and symbolic misfortune of  America’s war heroes. Ironically, it was Kryn Miner who strove to gain access to benefits for many of his fellow Iran and Afghanistan war veterans via the Lone Survivor’s Foundation.  Eventually, he became a spokesman for the foundation.  But Miner struggled with his own demons that eventually cost him his life in a troubling case of patricide in rural Vermont.  Kryn Miner suffered with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress.  On the day he died, he had attended a wedding with his wife and arguably consumed too much alcohol.  He became angry and menacing ultimately threatening to kill his family.  In self defense, one of Miner’s children used a handgun to defend members of the family.  The state’s attorney general did not bring charges calling Miner’s death a justified homicide.

This family, like so many others has suffered immeasurably and will experience the pain of this death forever. It would be all too easy to point the finger at the Veteran’s Administration Healthcare System for having too few mental health clinicians or too long a waiting list. In fact as much of an advocate Kryn Miner was for his brother servicemen and women he did not help himself. He threatened his family with a firearm and may have killed them all were he not stopped by a courageous child in a unconscionable turn of events that no one could anticipate.