Editorial | Sheriff’s Office Professionally Handled Potential Deadly Incident In response, islander reaches out to assist veterans

— by Lin McNulty —

On Jan. 27 of this year, San Juan County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a request to check on the welfare of an Iraq War veteran on Orcas Island. The call came in at 11:10 a.m. on a Friday morning.

The deputy arriving on the scene contacted a resident of the home and discovered that the 36-year-old male had been drinking all night. The floor of the house was covered in blood and there was a knife sticking out of the wall. It was believed that the subject was currently parked at Moran State Park.

Deputies, while responding to Moran, saw the vehicle headed in the opposite direction on Olga Road. They immediately turned in pursuit, stopping the car further north on Olga Road.

Because of the potential danger in approaching the subject, who was believed to be armed, as well as intoxicated, additional deputies were called out to respond, including deputies from other islands and the Sheriff, himself. Orcas Fire set up roadblocks north and south of the deputies’ position to help secure the scene.

Deputies were not able to see into the vehicle and received no response to their communication attempts. The traffic stop resulted in a three-hour standoff, that ended when the man was eventually taken into custody, treated at the scene for injuries, and transported for further evaluation.

In steps Stephanie Wright: Reading about that incident prompted islander Stephanie Wright, herself a veteran of three tours in Afghanistan, to do something. “There is nothing on island just for vets,” she says. “Nobody else gets it.” It took her five seconds, she reflects, to set up a Facebook page for “Orcas Island Vets as a forum for any island war veteran to rant, rave, vent, or to know that they just have a group of people who have been there and done that. A support group for island vets… you need someone to talk to, we are here for you…. no judgment, no ridicule, just like-minded people who have each others backs…​”

So far, 22 vets have joined the Facebook page, and get-togethers are in the process of being arranged.

This entire situation, had it played out in a different community, might have ended less peacefully. We read such tragic headlines weekly. This is an opportunity to recognize and acknowledge our deputies’ training, professionalism, and compassion that they were able to bring about a level-headed resolution for this man, as well as for the Orcas population, and themselves.

And a credit to islanders like Wright, who recognized a need and took action to fill it.

Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255, Press 1. Text to 838255

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Editorial | Sheriff’s Office Professionally Handled Potential Deadly Incident In response, islander reaches out to assist veterans — 5 Comments

  1. Good results to a potentially really sad outcome. Good job, police and kudos to the paper for printing it. I know, personally that Lin McNulty has a healthy love for both law enforcement and our vets. Thank you.

  2. Thanks to our deputies’ level-headedness, this situation turned out OK. I hope that this veteran got the help he needed, and that he continues to get it.

    It took another vet to recognize the need, and what PTSD does to people who’ve fought in wars, and do something about it, as only someone with similar experience and understanding of what this poor man was going through, could.

    War is hell, there’s no way to sugar-coat it. Using young men and women in wars of aggression against mainly civilians, leaves everyone scarred. I’m sorry our government continues to promote wars and to fail our vets so badly; two wrongs don’t make a right. Bless Stephanie Wright for seeing a need, and filling it, as only another veteran of our “latter wars” could.

    If I offend anyone or if my views are deemed inappropriate, feel free to remove this comment. I mean no hurt to anyone. I see no good that comes from wars – only sadness, ruin, death, and pain. We are going to see more and more of these kinds of mental health crises, the more wars we wage.

  3. As a psychiatrist who treats veterans with PTSD, let me congratulate all of you on a job well done. Amazing place and amazing people. Thanks for allowing the public, regardless of where we live (since I don’t reside on Orcas) to respond on line.

  4. I would like to add something to the discussion. There is help available to our veterans. The San Juan County Veterans Advisory Fund was set up in 2007. The fund is administered by the nine member Veterans Advisory Board. The VAB provides emergency services to indigent veterans, their dependents, widows, widowers and/or orphans. A veteran might need assistance with food, medical/dental bills, utility bills, heating/auto fuel, rent, etc.

    The Veteran Advisory Fund is funded by San Juan County property taxes. The nine member Board is made up of San Juan County veterans. Each member of the Board (and I hope each citizen of San Juan County) takes great pride in reaching out to those vets in need. The VAB prides itself in acting quickly when a veteran seeks assistance.
    Web Page: http://apps.sanjuanco.com/committees/veterans/