Defense & Mental Illness

The United States has a massive Defense budget, greater than most of our allies combined.  We have military bases and fleets across the globe; their reported utility is to defend both our own country and our allies from threats launched in other countries.  Whether their purpose is also to intimidate others to adopt our policies is open to debate.

At the same time, our country has come under attack from within.  Every week or so, another killing occurs in one of our companies, schools or malls, often unleashed by a young male with a history that suggests schizophrenia.  Unfortunately, even when their illness has been identified and reported before the tragedy, our mental health system is ill equipped to handle the number of those afflicted.  Just last evening,  the 60 Minutes program on CBS called attention to this issue, revealing that emergency rooms have become the destination of last resort for families seeking medical intervention for their paranoid, homicidal or suicidal relative.

Perhaps we could divert a small percentage of our bloated Defense budget toward addressing this worsening crisis.  After all, providing adequate professional services and facilities for the mentally ill is vital to defending the freedom and welfare of all citizens.  This, it seems to me, is a more appropriate use of our tax dollars than trying to instill American democracy in countries that do not share our culture.  Besides, we are bound to have more influence on other nations through our commitment to social justice and economic freedom than through threats of military force.