In a letter to each member of Idaho's congressional delegation, Boise police chief Mike Masterson called on Congress to do more to aid veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders resulting from combat duty.
The letter comes just seven months after officers from the Boise Police Department were involved in a short-lived shootout with an Iraq war veteran. The veteran, George G. Nickel, is a recipient of both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for bravery while on-duty in Iraq. When citizens of Boise discovered that officers shot at a war veteran, many were outraged and flooded the department's offices with calls and email expressing discontent over the handling of the matter.
At the time, according to a report from the Boise ombudsman, officers had no way of knowing exactly at whom they were shooting. The report issued by the ombudsman said "the use of deadly force in response to this imminent threat to human life was both reasonable and necessary.” No one was hurt during the standoff.
Masterson said the incident is an example of a soldier who could have used additional resources and help from the country he once served. He adds that the military must do more to ensure the mental health and wellbeing of soldiers.
Some text from Masterson's letter:
Whatever the issues and explanations, I am concerned that without more careful identification and treatment, these individuals may indeed pose a threat to their own safety and that of their families and community. My greatest concern is Mr. Nickel’s case is not isolated, and other police officers, not only in Boise but in Idaho and across the nation will be forced to confront a troubled veteran with weapons drawn. Any or all those involved will be chastised for doing what they felt they must for self-preservation or public safety, and worse, the outcome will be lives lost.
One citizen who wrote me said, “These veterans are our people. We need to care for them like they took care of us!”
As a Chief of Police of Idaho’s largest and Capital City, I urge you to work with all branches of our military, our Veteran’s Affairs groups and VA hospitals, and strive to improve and expand the safety net that must cover our veterans. It is the duty of the country they served to now serve and protect them, and indeed enhance their opportunities as they rejoin civilian life.
You can read Chief Masteron's full letter to the congressional delegation by clicking here. As soon as they come available, IdahoReporter.com will post responses to the letter by members of Idaho's congressional delegation.