Stryker Combat Team Iraq anniversary and Stop blaming mental illness for mass shootings

Pennsylvania’s 28th Infantry Division of the National Guard has a long and storied past. The Division battle lineage dates to military campaigns during the Civil War and to the present-day conflict in Iraq.

The “Iron Division” was also the first, and only, National Guard unit to field the Stryker Combat Vehicle as part of the Army’s reorganization in the early 2000’s.

Ten years ago, the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 28th Infantry Division deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. WITF went along with a journalist embedded in the unit to file reports from the field.

Appearing on Smart Talk is former WITF journalist Scott Detrow to reflect on the anniversary and experience. Detrow is currently a political correspondent for NPR. He covers the 2020 presidential campaign and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.

Retired Col. Marc Ferraro, Former 56th Stryker Brigade Commander, and Maj. Lois Mendoza, Commander 1st Battalion, 108th Field Artillery Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team are also in the studio to share their perspective on the historic deployment.

Also, the recent mass shootings in Ohio and Texas have renewed calls for greater attention on individuals with mental illnesses. Some Pennsylvania lawmakers say that any new gun control efforts must include an investment in mental health treatment and screening.

Mental health professionals, however, say that people with mental illness are being unfairly cast as the perpetrators. They point out that a history of violence and substance abuse are much more accurate predictors of future violence than a mental health diagnosis.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the issue are Transforming Health reporter Brett Sholtis and Dr. John “Jack” Rozel, MD, Medical Director, Resolve Crisis Services and President, American Association for Emergency Psychiatry.

For more on mental health screening plus a deeper look at the changing tide of healthcare–check out WITF’s Transforming Health. A partnership of WITF, WellSpan Health and Capital Blue Cross.