No. No. No.
NO, we should NOT put veterans into schools to offer students protection. These veteran memes are one of the worst ideas to spread in the wake of school shootings. These memes pop up like dandelions after every school shooting and I can’t begin to tell you how infuriating it is to see them spread across social media. The idea and these idiotic memes are placebos. You will not solve a social crisis by throwing a meme out there nor can you effectively solve the rampant problem of school shootings by employing every unemployed (or hell, employed) veteran because it sounded like a good idea at the time.
There are people far more qualified than I am to vent about the issue of school shootings and in the past week many of them have spoken. They’ve shouted their discontent and allowed their rage to unfold in the aftermath of the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Seventeen individuals lost their lives and we have people throwing memes out there like they can effectively solve school shootings and veteran unemployment with the click of the button and wipe all responsibility onto someone else to design, implement, and evaluate such a solution.
As a parent, I don’t like the idea that my child or any child I know might one day be ambushed and shot at in a school setting. IT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN.
I also share this sentiment as a gun owner. I don’t believe everyone who meets the qualifications to own a firearm should necessarily own or handle a weapon. We’ve seen far too often people who abuse their second amendment right.
We have a real problem on our hands when it comes to finding the right solutions to empowering schools, their staff, and our children. No one person can say what those solutions will be because it takes the investment of many individuals in local communities to assess what the weak areas are in the school system (building, staffing, training, etc.) and our resources (funding, training, personnel, etc.). These conversations must continue to trickle up so as a nation we can reduce and prevent school shootings but respond better when incidents happen on or around school grounds.
For this reason, I want to take a brief second and reaffirm my belief we should not employ veterans on school grounds as a remedy to school violence. On its face, the solution sounds great. The American understanding is school children are protected by the likes of veterans specifically taught firearms safety. Veterans, in need of jobs or purpose after transitioning out of the military, find security and meaning in protecting schoolchildren and Americans are comforted by the fact they’ve done two “good deeds” in one fell swoop. Although these are oversimplifications, not all veterans are equipped for law enforcement responsibilities. In spite of having firearms safety training, there are numerous qualifications many veterans would lack to step into this role. Additionally, a number of veterans separated from military service for health, behavioral, or legal reasons that would also not make them well-suited to law enforcement responsibilities on school premises. Would you want Iraqi detainee abuser Lynndie England protecting your children? How about former Marine drill instructor Joseph Felix who abused recruits? I didn’t think so.
At this point, most of us need to listen more than to speak. I have not faced a school shooting directly and I am among those listening now. For those of us on the sidelines, we must help the conversations of those hurting.
Take some time and actively listen to the victims’ stories.
Take some time to look at and think about, what if my child died?
What would you want to happen?