Even the simplest of facts in the Alexis mass murder story is nuanced

When tragedies such as the Washington Navy Yard massacre occur it becomes apparent — through the media — that the public doesn’t know shit from Shinola when it comes the military.

All day yesterday I heard that former Naval Reservist Aaron Alexis of Fort Worth had been given a general discharge upon release from active reserve duty. Alexis, 34, died after allegedly slaughtering 12 people yesterday in the Naval Sea Systems Command, located at the Navy Yard. Today, in mostly written tones that appeared mostly accusatory, The Washington Times, updated the information saying Alexis was given a honorable discharge. The Times is the conservative mouthpiece of D.C. founded by cult leader Sun Myung Moon. The Navy added Alexis was discharged after a period of “misconduct.”

In realty, there isn’t much difference between a general and an honorable discharge. Of course, the nut jobs will assume what was in reality an upgrade had to do with race. These nut jobs see any advantage a black person receives is given rather than earned. The major difference¬† in discharges or practically anything else regarding military service is in the type of job one does, the type of unit one is in, whether the commanding officer is understanding or not, and whether a person has a decent supervisor. I’m not saying there isn’t racism still in the military, but the service is generally less racist than other portions of society.

The chronological times also define military separations. That is, whether the military needs people really bad, especially those in critical jobs. When I served in the Navy from 1974-1978, the major difference between a honorable discharge and a general discharge under honorable conditions was that the latter was given the honorable discharge providing the individual had performance marks above 2.5 on a 0 to 4.0 scale. As for benefits distinguishing the two, an honorably separated sailor could wear his Navy uniform home from the service when I was honorably separated. Someone with a general separation could not. The criteria for discharges change from time-to-time.

I distinguish “separation” and “discharge” here. A person is separated from that individual’s particular date of active duty. I signed up for four years active duty and two years “individual ready reserve.” The latter is a non-drilling type of reserve which is only called up in time of great military need. I could not have seen that happening at all to me between 1978 and 1980. Likewise, no “IRR” call-up occurred. But there were IRR personnel called up during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Once that inactive reserve time is served, you may be like me and forgot you were even in the IRR when all of a sudden, a big envelope comes in the mail with a cheaply-made Honorable Discharge certificate. You, or in this case, I, was finally discharged.

Someone should not look upon the type of discharge Alexis had as a major factor of determining what went wrong with him. He said that he had PTSD from having served as a first-responder at 9/11 at the World Trade Center. Whether that is true remains to be seen.

The internet offers instant analysis. True I am giving someone an instant analysis, but the majority is based on knowledge of the armed forces. That is at least the case for one period in U.S. military history. I just ask that someone gets his or her information from a trusted, or semi-trusted, source before floating it all over the internets.

It’s just a thought. If you don’t like it, you sure as shit don’t have to read it.