Killer undeserving of honor

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Recently I heard a caller to a local radio talk show say that Christopher Michael Hodges deserved a funeral procession with the same honor and attention that the community was giving James D. Paugh, the police officer he killed.

I also have read many comments on The Augusta Chronicle’s online boards that talked about Hodges as a victim, a hero and deserving of military honors for his service. His girlfriend, in an interview on television station WJBF, said she didn’t want the community to judge him by this one act, and to remember his Army service.

As a combat veteran and the parent of a police officer who worked with J.D. Paugh, I wanted to offer my opinion. There are some acts that define a person forever. Murder is one of them.

To put this into perspective, what if Hodges did not commit suicide but instead was arrested after the murder? He would have had a trial where he could have entered all his excuses: post-traumatic stress disorder (though his girlfriend denied he had it), alcohol dependence, temporary insanity, etc. He would have been found guilty and probably sentenced to death. He would have been dishonorably discharged from the Army, thus denying him military honors at his funeral.

Would the community think it appropriate to honor him after his execution? Then why would we honor him now? I am sure his family is grieving his untimely death and hopefully ashamed of his actions. But military burial honors and equating his life with the life of J.D. Paugh are simply not appropriate.

Hodges is facing the only One who can adequately judge his actions and life. Let’s leave him and his memory in God’s hands. May God have mercy on his soul.

Gary J. Heffner

Augusta

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harley_52
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harley_52 10/26/11 - 10:20 pm
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Great letter, Mr. Heffner.

Great letter, Mr. Heffner. And I agree with you completely.

TakeAHike
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TakeAHike 10/27/11 - 12:05 am
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He is undeserving of any

He is undeserving of any honor. Nice character witness--the MISTRESS. The fact that he has one shows he has some serious character flaws. The fact that she is his mistress immediately discredits her capability to make a reliable character assessment. Why doesn't the media call it like it is? It's a terrible shame that he took a good man with him.

Techfan
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Techfan 10/27/11 - 02:43 am
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I doubt the girlfriend has

I doubt the girlfriend has the qualifications to dianose PTSD. Hodges was obviously a troubled young man. We may never know what the underlying factors were. It seems to me to be a tragedy all around.

shrimp for breakfast
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shrimp for breakfast 10/27/11 - 06:51 am
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Agreed Gary!

Agreed Gary!

agustinian
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agustinian 10/27/11 - 07:19 am
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Interesting expression "May

Interesting expression "May God have mercy on his soul." Why should He?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/27/11 - 07:40 am
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Here's how I look at it. I

Here's how I look at it. I have a gun and make no mistake if I had come upon the incident and had the opportunity, I would have blown Hodges away without a second thought. Still that doesn't mean he didn't have demons from the war. PTSD is common enough and often manifests itself in situations exactly like this.

Hodges came from a good family, graduated from Evans HS, had no police record and had served in the war for a year as we all know. It was a tragic event and we all wish Hodges had been helped before he took J.D. Paugh's life and his own. It's a sad situation.

As to whether Hodges deserves a military funeral. I doubt it. Here is the U.S. Code Title 10, Section 985.

(2) A person who is a veteran (as defined in section 1491(h) of this title) or who died while on active duty or a member of a reserve component, when the circumstances surrounding the person's death or other circumstances as specified by the Secretary of Defense are such that to provide military honors at the funeral or burial of the person would bring discredit upon the person's service (or former service)."

Still I personally believe this was obviously PTSD, but we will never know for sure. In that spirit I would attend Hodges funeral if I were close to his family and contribute to the funeral if they needed help.

allhans
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allhans 10/27/11 - 08:22 am
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Honors for this man? Hah! I

Honors for this man? Hah!
I have wondered how many innocnet lives would have been taken if the deputy hadn't stopped him or if the hour had been earlier with heavier traffic.
Reports from TN says he had a wife who was also in the military. Is this true and has she been heard from?

allhans
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allhans 10/27/11 - 08:26 am
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I don't know about the PTSD

I don't know about the PTSD Riverman, 2007-8 has been a few years so it should have shown before now if this has been so. Perhaps stress of a different kind.
Lets please not give our troops a bad name by categorizing them.

(I see you can't depend on spell-check. good think I double checked.)

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/27/11 - 08:32 am
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Allhans, fair enough, but I

Allhans, fair enough, but I am not giving our troops a bad name. It's a very real problem with posters up all around Eisenhower advising soldiers to get help and classes given to help commanders and others advise the returning vets. It's a real problem with many vets of the war. The biggest problem is the stigma associated with it. It can manifest in sudden and violent behavior. It's no disgrace to seek help for such a problem...yet many won't. It's certainly not giving troops a bad name to recognize these problems exist.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 10/27/11 - 08:32 am
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"Interesting expression "May

"Interesting expression "May God have mercy on his soul." Why should He?"

Because He is a merciful God and Hodges is still His creation, augustinian.
We are all sinners, some saved by Grace, and none of us are perfect.

iLove
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iLove 10/27/11 - 08:45 am
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Continuing to PRAY for the
Unpublished

Continuing to PRAY for the families that are involved. . . .my heart goes out to the officer's family and friends. Also, for the young soldier's family and friends. Seek God in your most difficult times and I KNOW HE WILL PROVIDE.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 In Jesus' name

iLove
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iLove 10/27/11 - 09:00 am
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Why print this on the day of
Unpublished

Why print this on the day of the funeral of Officer Paugh?

IMO, this causes unnecessary jibber jabber.

Who are you to say what this man deserves? Does it matter how MAN honors/dishonors him?

"Hodges is facing the only One who can adequately judge his actions and life. Let’s leave him and his memory in God’s hands. May God have mercy on his soul."

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 10/27/11 - 09:23 am
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As the daughter of a career

As the daughter of a career military officer who served his country honorably in two major wars, I agree with Mr. Heffner's letter.
I do feel compassion for Hodges and his family, but I also feel that it is important that we not offer up quick excuses or glorify his actions in any way.

Burial with military honors? No way. Those honors are sacred and should be reserved for those who have justly served and honored their country, family, community, fellow soldiers and God. A burial with dignity and mercy, free from judgement and public scrutiny, absolutely.

I do pray for mercy on Hodges and comfort and provisions for his family and loved ones.

iLove
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iLove 10/27/11 - 09:32 am
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...soooooo WHO EXACTLY is
Unpublished

...soooooo WHO EXACTLY is calling for a burial with military honors for Hodges???? WHO?! A Caller....a few commentors. . . . .once again...who?

Of course, it IS NOT RIGHT to do such a thing. . . .SOOOOOOO WHAT'S THE POINT OF THE LETTER ON A DAY LIKE TODAY?

Who is glorifying his actions?

Peace to Officer Paugh's family & friends.

Vito45
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Vito45 10/27/11 - 09:35 am
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I agree Ilove, why even

I agree Ilove, why even publish it to begin with? Let that nonsense stay in the dark where it belongs.

whooney65
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whooney65 10/27/11 - 10:08 am
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He doesn't deserve being

He doesn't deserve being honored at all...He was cheating on his wife and family...and Taking the life of one of our most beloved officers in Ga...No honors deserved for that...I don't care how many times he has been to warzone...The military offers help for those who return...Shame on anyone thinking he deserves any recognition....I feel sorry for his wife and children and family,,,Not for him...He killed JD and then being the coward he was...Killed himself...Yes I am angry!

eagle
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eagle 10/27/11 - 11:14 am
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Hodges is now the victim? I
Unpublished

Hodges is now the victim? I don't think so! No honors. Just plant him and be done with it. Mr. Heffner...great letter.

Jane18
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Jane18 10/27/11 - 11:36 am
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Good letter Mr. Heffner.

Good letter Mr. Heffner. "Absent from the body, present with the LORD". The only one that could ask GOD for mercy on Hodges' soul is the soul and spirit of Officer Paugh. We could all ask, it wouldn't hurt ......................

harley_52
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harley_52 10/27/11 - 11:47 am
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It seems to me there are at

It seems to me there are at least two problems in tying this horrible act to PTSD. One is that by so doing you are (to one degree or another) legitimizing all bad behavior by combat veterans as being beyond their control, or in some ways even expected. That it's not their fault. Much like the way liberals tend to blame bad behavior on the fact that the perp's father was mean to him when he was a child, or that his mother used to call him names, or lock him in his bedroom all alone. It attempts to blame external circumstances, not personal behavior, for the sins committed.

Second, and much more importantly, it's a suggestion that all military personnel who have served in combat are somehow mentally unstable. That, at any moment and out of nowhere, they might explode uncontrollably into some sort of monster that is capable of the ugliest behavior and the worst crimes imaginable.

The effects are devastating. Veterans are shunned by society when they're viewed as ticking time bombs. They have trouble getting hired. They have trouble in relationships. They have these troubles piled on top of all their other troubles and more troubles is not what they need.

I'm willing to say Hodges was an uncontrollably mean drunk who also happened to be a combat veteran. That he happened also to be a combat veteran does nothing to excuse or explain his actions in murdering this Police Officer and should be viewed in no way as being representative of what should be expected of any other combat veteran.

Is it possible there is some link to PTSD? Yes. But lots of things are possible and without any evidence NONE of them should be assumed.

LadyT
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LadyT 10/27/11 - 11:52 am
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Good letter Gary!!!...Im with

Good letter Gary!!!...Im with you 100% God bless these families!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/27/11 - 12:06 pm
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Harley, the thing is this is

Harley, the thing is this is classic PTSD. Whether it was the case here, we'll never know, but it's not out of line to suggest. Most goes undiagnosed, and like I explained earlier, the Army is doing all they can to get these guys treated because they KNOW it's a real problem. I believe the national media has picked up on this story as likely related to his time in Iraq.

What bothers me most if those that say PTSD can't cause problems like this or that "Iraqi and Vietnam veterans are soft compared to WWII vets." That's an on-air quote. It was said that WWII vets weren't allowed to have emotional problems. That's a foolish statement because we all know better whether they got treatment or not. I had relatives who are dead now who were in WWII and turned into alcoholics when they returned. They may not have been diagnosed, but it was just as prevalent for those vets as modern day vets.

There really are many soldiers affected by this problem. My most dramatic experience was at the National Training Center (NTC, as you know) during realistic training. A Vietnam vet, an officer, who was still on active duty went absolutely crazy and nearly killed some people. He completely lost touch with reality. So I know it does happen.

Harley, I experienced a little of what you described, too, when I got back from the war. Loud noises, fire crackers especially, sounds at night and so on bothered the heck out of me for awhile. Like you, it passed and I never had problems, but I can easily see how many do.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/27/11 - 12:12 pm
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Harley, what do you think

Harley, what do you think about my thoughts about stress on latter day vets actually being greater than that of WWII vets because of the type wars fought? My contention is Vietnam and Iraq were constant skirmishes, rockets and so on about everyday. Where WWII was massive battles that lasted for a few days and then there was no activity for long periods which gave them more time to recuperate.

Vito45
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Vito45 10/27/11 - 03:46 pm
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My opinion is that PTSD has

My opinion is that PTSD has been around as long as humans, it has just been dealt with differently as we learn more about it. I have "0" education in psychiatry, but a fair amount of life experience that qualifies me to opine.
PTSD is closely related, if not the same, as Panic Disorder. In its acute phase it is devastating to the victim, and can be triggered by emotional trauma, drugs, etc. Untreated, it can lead to depression, alcoholism, and suicide. At a minimum, it is a daily burden that can lead to premature death from the effects of constant tension and worry. There are literally millions of people who suffer from it in varying degrees who've never seen a uniform, so it is not exclusive to combat exposure, which IMO is the emotional trauma trigger for them.

I do wonder if the percentages of civilians who have overt symptoms are anything like the percentage of military folks?

I do believe also, that in the "old days" this was the common "nervous breakdown"which landed people in the psych ward because the medical community didn't know what it was or how to treat it.

Lastly, I think as a society we have softened and do not embrace "chin up, take it like a man" in addition to all of the emotional gyrations kids go through these days with daycare raising them, mom and day getting divorced at the drop of a hat, or no dad from the get go, etc. In that respect, I do NOT think this generation is as mentally tough as our forebears; it is just evolutionary.

I watched an interesting program program the other day about the "warrior gene". SEALS and other special ops people tend to have a high percentage of the gene as do thrill seekers, and unfortunately, as do hotheads who want to fight if someone looks at them the wrong way. Look it up, there will probably be a re-run; but if the military only had those with the warrior gene, there would be little to no PTSD.

whooney65
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whooney65 10/27/11 - 12:46 pm
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Wow 5-6 thousand people at

Wow 5-6 thousand people at JD's funeral....Police officers from as far as New York city...officers from every county you can think of...What a great tribute to a great man....

harley_52
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harley_52 10/27/11 - 12:53 pm
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Riverman, I respect you for

Riverman, I respect you for both your knowledge of the subject of PTSD and for your concern about the lives of combat veterans. You are much closer to the issue than I and may even be trained in diagnosing/treating it. My opinion is based only on personal experiences and observing lots of people who are combat vets over the past four decades plus.

If you haven't read the book "Stolen Valor" by B.G. Burkett, I would highly recommend it. Burkett is a Vietnam veteran who became interested in how Vietnam vets were perceived by society and why. He spends a fair amount of time addressing the PTSD issue and I'd have to say my experiences are much like the those he recounts in the chapter "PTSD Made Easy."

If I had to guess, I'd say the WWI, WWII, and Korea vets would be more likely to be affected by PTSD than their more recent brethren in the newer wars. I say that because I think it's caused by moments of sheer terror, when you are pretty sure you're going to die, not from times when something happens all of a sudden and then it's gone, leaving you only to say "whew, that was close," if you know what I mean. I think the old soldiers who lived for weeks in freezing mud, with artillery exploding all around them and repelling frequent ground attacks would probably be more affected and more lastingly affected than those of us lucky enough to enjoy better weather, shorter battles, better food, better medical care, and quicker evacuation to hospitals. It's hard to imagine what they went through and even harder to imagine if you look back to what the Civil War soldiers endured.

harley_52
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harley_52 10/27/11 - 12:57 pm
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Vito45 said "Look it up,

Vito45 said "Look it up, there will probably be a re-run; but if the military only had those with the warrior gene, there would be little to no PTSD."

I suggest that if the V.A. didn't pay $$$ in disability pay for PTSD you'd see a lot less of it as well.

iLove
626
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iLove 10/27/11 - 01:03 pm
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So many heartless people. .
Unpublished

So many heartless people. . .and we wonder why our kids act the way they do.

Chillen
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Chillen 10/27/11 - 01:17 pm
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PTSD or no PTSD, there is no

PTSD or no PTSD, there is no excuse for killing another human being in cold blood. Talk about heartless.

I suspect in time there will be more to this story. I'd be interested to know a bit more about his background & beliefs. This sounds like a Major Hassan type situation to me.

lsmith
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lsmith 10/27/11 - 01:31 pm
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PTSD???? I've dug up every
Unpublished

PTSD???? I've dug up every bit of info I could on this guy and the shooting situation and no where have I seen justification for "classic PTSD". The answer is not nearly as complex as war implications. Bottom line, the guy had an alcohol problem and was warned to get it in order by the military. He has a history of violence when drunk and he WAS drunk during this incident, harassing his mistress, and passing cars.
His mistress says his life cannot be defined by one incident. I'm sorry, but she's wrong. Who remembers anything about the life of Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, Mark David Chapman etc...etc...Whatever good they may have done previously was lost in one instant of irresponsiblity. The summary of Christopher Hodges' life has been forever written. He died a drunk, an adulterer, a coward and a murderer. Maybe God will have mercy on his soul, but he'll get no sympathy from me.
condolences to both families..............

whooney65
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whooney65 10/27/11 - 01:29 pm
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The girlfriend is as bad as

The girlfriend is as bad as Hodges...dating a married man....shame on her for saying what a great guy he was..Really?What was so great about him....He was a COWARD!!!God Bless his wife and children...what a monster.

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