Our readers have likely all heard by now of the Navy Yard shooting last week, in which former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis shot and killed twelve people and injured three others before being shot and killed by police. The shooting was the second deadliest mass murder on a U.S. military base after the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood.
The fact that Alexis had a history of mental illness, and had showed classic symptoms of psychosis, has struck up a renewed debate about both gun control and mental illness. Unlike the Sandy Hood shooting, though, the focus this time is much more on treating mental illness than on gun control.
The shooting, not surprisingly, is being used by many lawmakers as justification for pushing ahead with bipartisan health policy changes. According to Senator Richard Blumenthal, focusing on treatment of mental health is “the key to unlocking this issue.”
Treatment of mental illness is indeed an important public health, and public safety, concern. Particularly among veterans, mental health is a huge need. Unfortunately, veterans do not always seek out the mental health care they so desperately need.
In the broader population, there is also a great need for mental health treatment. For some people, this isn’t possible without the support provided by Social Security disability benefits. Like VA benefits, SSDI benefits are not necessarily swift in coming to applicants, but those who qualify do have a better chance of receiving their benefits sooner if they put together a solid application. Doing so is a bit easier with an experienced advocate.
Source: New York Times, “Mental Health Again an Issue in Gun Debtate,” Jeremy W. Peters & Michael Luo, September 18, 2013.