FORT WORTH -- George P. Bush had planned to spend today at a gun range with ace sniper Chris Kyle, talking about veterans issues and getting in some target practice.
But Kyle, the U.S. military's most lethal sniper, and his friend Chad Littlefield were killed Saturday at a gun range about 77 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
Bush, who lives in Fort Worth and is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, said in a letter released to the Star-Telegram Tuesday that he was saddened to learn about Kyle's death and described him as "a true American patriot."
"He served our nation proudly, and when he returned home, he continued to serve," wrote Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush. "I was immediately troubled by the irony of this tragedy -- that one of our greatest and most decorated Navy Seals of our time, who fought so bravely for our country in multiple combat zones, was killed by one of our own, here at home."
After Saturday's shooting, Eddie Ray Routh of Lancaster -- whom Kyle and Littlefield had taken to the gun range, trying to help the veteran deal with problems he was having related to post-traumatic stress disorder -- was taken into custody and remains in the Erath County Jail facing two charges of capital murder.
Bush, who deployed to Afghanistan as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve and plans to run for statewide office next year, said few Americans talk about post-traumatic stress disorder even though some estimates show as many as one in five veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan come home with the disorder.
"I have spoken with many combat veterans, and almost all of them agree that we can do a lot more to help veterans transition back into society after deployment," wrote Bush. "Service members put their lives on the line and experience extreme stress in combat zones. Once they return, only a few disclose they have symptoms of PTSD, and many fear the perception of weakness among their colleagues or that it will adversely impact their professional development.
"While certainly no excuse, the struggles for soldiers like the young man who took the lives of Chris and Chad are immeasurable," he wrote. "This was an unspeakable tragedy, but we must now look to the future and ask what we can do to prevent this from happening again."
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