Pearl Harbor shooting prompts calls for better mental health treatment for military

Pearl Harbor shooting prompts calls for better mental health treatment for military

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s still unclear if the victims in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting were targeted or if it was a random act of workplace violence.

The gunman, 22-year-old Gabriel Romero, was indeed mentally unstable.

Despite showing signs, some say he may not have gotten the help that he needed.

A former Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard civilian employee, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation because of pending litigation, says those who work on base and suffer from mental illness are often too afraid to come forward.

“If you need to go and seek help and talk about your feelings, then you’re weak and you shouldn’t be here trying to defend your fellow brothers and sisters,” she said.

The woman struggles with depression and anxiety.

She’s the spouse of a former military officer and says she sees the repercussions on both sides.

"In the military community, there is a stigma that if you raise your hand and say, ‘I need help. I have PTSD, I have depression, I have bipolar disorder,’ whatever it may be, that you may lose your security clearance,” she said. “Lose your security clearance, you lose your job."

She said a security clearance is a condition of employment whether you are in the military or a civilian employee and if you ask for help with mental illness, there are consequences with that.

"A flag is put on your security clearance,” she said. “So, it's this scarlet letter that you carry around until it's adjudicated and you're good. So why would you?”

Jeff Owens, a retired Honolulu Police Department major and expert on workplace violence, says the best solution is noticing the signs and taking them seriously.

“Our best opportunity is to be able to recognize when people are showing disturbing behaviors and then report that appropriately,” Owens said. “And for supervisors, managers, to have the appropriate training and knowledge to know how to respond to that to deescalate the situation.”

Counseling services are being offered in light of this week’s tragic events.

Walk-in appointments are available. The number for the Chaplain is (808) 473-3971. The Emergency Family Assistance Center is (866) 525-6676.

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