An enormous amount of time, energy, emotion, and money will be spent looking for answers and explanations in the aftermath of the Fort Bragg cluster of murders. There will be lots of talk of post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression, stress, and anger. The pundits-that-be may even coin a new phrase to explain why returning U.S. soldiers murder or were murdered by their spouses.
But there is still really only one appropriate word in our language that explains both the cause and the effect in Fort Bragg, and the word is grief. The Fort Bragg soldiers are both victims and promulgators of grief. It is a pattern we see often. Those who suffer from unresolved grief not only suffer enormously, they often inflict similar or worse suffering on those around them.
The phrase collateral damage takes on new dimensions when applied to the toll taken on immediate and extended family members and the larger family of our military organization and all of its branches and personnel. Even those of us in the general population are affected by these arcane events. The bulk of the media exchange will be focused on the facts and figures, the why’s and wherefore’s of the case. There will be an intellectual spotlight focused on what happened and what caused it.
There will be labels and diagnoses and an unlimited amount of "expert" opinion on the facts and figures involved in the tragedy. Much attention will be focused on the backstory of the perpetrators, which we can guarantee is rife with emotional losses of every kind. What will be shunted aside will be those individual and collective hearts that have been broken by the events themselves. Any knowledge gained by the intellectual pursuits will be of little value to the aching hearts of the moms and dads, kids and cousins, friends, and co-workers of both the victims and the victimizers. The sad truth is that broken hearts don't un-break when they find out why it all happened. We must make sure to address some of our concern to those grieving people, and not just with clichés about loss, but with purpose and direction to help guide them to completion of their pain. It would only augment their anguish if they are merely relegated to being just another set of footnotes in a bizarre tragedy.