Fort Lauderdale shooting raises questions about veterans & mental health care

Friday’s shooting in Fort Lauderdale has reignited the discussion about the mentally ill having access to firearms and services for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In San Francisco, Yulee Newsome, founder of CivCom, works on helping veterans and military families and the challenges veterans face when returning to civilian life.

"We do need to have a better more robust plan for mental health," says Newsome.

The U.S. Navy veteran says it's disappointing to learn that Fort Lauderdale suspect Esteban Santiago is also a military vet. He points to the need for services to help vets transition to civilian life.

"The military is a very macho, can-do power through it type of environment. But you have support in the military that powering through it on your own is not something you can do when you come out," says Newsome.
Santiago is 26-years-old and the father of a newborn son. Family members say he returned from Iraq a changed man. One says "he lost his mind."

His brother says Santiago had recently been receiving psychological treatment but did not know what his condition is.

"You are materially a different person when you come back," says Newsome.

He says many young people join the military right out of school with little knowledge of the outside world. Upon their return, the world they knew and technology have changed.

"The civilian world is completely different from the military world. That's why we have boot camp. It takes a very long time to figure out how to be a military person," says Newsome.

Yet he says there are few resources to help veterans transition back to civilian life.

"When you're in the military, you have a whole network of people that you can rely on and you're told about uniforms. You're told who to report to. You have a chain of command. When you get out of the military, it's just you and some people struggle with that," says Newsome.

But without more information, Newsome says it's hard to tell what went wrong with suspect Santiago .