I was living in DC during 9/11 and in the terrifying post-9/11 context in which the D.C. Sniper shootings occurred in Oct 2002. It was super-scary. We had no idea what was happening nor how to protect ourselves. No one knew where or when the sniper would strike next. Leaving the house to go to work, school or the grocery store required acts of faith and courage for the city’s citizens.

We thought it was Al Qaeda.

Turns out it was an African-American Gulf War Veteran.

This guy is going to die by lethal injection today. I am personally against the death penalty. But I will never forget how this man made me and everyone I knew feel for a very scary set of days. I remember also being disappointed to learn that he and his accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo were black. It made me feel so ashamed.

There’s relevance in this story to our world as we find it today. Whether it was DC in 2002, Oklahoma City in 1995 or a few days ago at Fort Hood, TX that we are doing a really good job of creating our own worst enemies who live within our own borders. Yeah, that’s right. What do Timothy McVeigh & Terry Nichols, Nidal Malik Hasan & John Allen Muhammad have in common? They are all U.S. Army veterans or in the case of Hasan — active duty.

Chilling. These are mass murderers. How many smaller crimes are being committed day in and day out by maladjusted soldiers? According to the VA, about 30% of the current adult homeless population has served in the Armed Forces. Having worked with the homeless in my past, I’d guess that number is closer to 50%. In seeking to create stability abroad with the notion of ensuring our national security, we have created instability and insecurity in the form of sick soldiers in our streets.

Most soldiers return from service and re-enter society just fine. They are productive tax-paying citizens just like the rest of us who owe them an incalculable debt for their service on our behalf. Too many are not coming back ok. A disproportionate number of the U.S. Armed Forces are African-American — is that why troops are not receiving the assistance, support and treatment they need?

We need to do better. Not just because the troops deserve it. We need to do it for our own safety… His ex-wife has said that Muhammad wasn’t the same after he came back from the war. Memo to Barack Obama: Let’s clean up our own house before we commit more troops overseas in wars of strategic choice not necessity. Before we spend the money that could go for healthcare and education. Before we destroy more families here at home. Before we create more mass murderers.

This system is not working.

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