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Slayings highlight risks of ‘gun therapy’ for vets

February 5, 2013 • National News


FILE – In this April 6, 2012 file photo, Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL and author of the book “American Sniper,” poses in Midlothian, Texas. Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were fatally shot at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. Former Marine Eddie Ray Routh, who came with them to the range, has been arrested for the murders. (AP Photo/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Paul Moseley, File)

DALLAS (AP) — Chris Kyle, reputed to be the deadliest sniper in American military history, often took veterans out shooting as a way to ease the trauma of war. Taking aim at a target, he once wrote, would help coax them back into normal, everyday life with a familiar, comforting activity.

But his death at a North Texas shooting range — allegedly at the hands of a troubled Iraq War veteran he was trying to assist — has highlighted the potential dangers of the practice.

Former soldiers and others familiar with their struggles say shooting a gun can sometimes be as therapeutic as playing with a dog or riding a horse. Psychiatrists wonder, though, whether the smell of the gunpowder and the crack of gunfire can trigger unpredictable responses, particularly in someone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other illnesses that aren’t immediately obvious.

“You have to be very careful with doing those kinds of treatment,” said Dr. Charles Marmar, chairman of the psychiatry department at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “People have to be well prepared for them.”

“But obviously you would Login to read more

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