LAKEWOOD, Wash. - The coffee shop just outside the gates of JBLM isn't so much about the coffee as it is about the people it serves.
Coffee Strong is a place where veterans provide support to soldiers like "Fred," who didn't want us to identify him-who face serious mental struggles after multiple deployments. After 2 tours in Iraq…Fred suffers from PTSD.
“I wasn't exactly sure why but I did not deal with stressful situations, things that might make me angry, in an appropriate manner,” he said.
He doesn't know what compelled a fellow soldier to open fire on Afghan civilians.
“A lot of times where you are in fear for your life,” he said.
He does know how stressful deployments can be.
“And that becomes difficult to deal with when it happens for extended periods of time and over and over and over,” he said.
Coffee Strong's executive director, Jorge Gonzales, is an Iraq war vet turned anti-war activist.
"I was not shocked not surprised, kinda made sense," he said.
Gonzales believed it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. He calls JBLM a rogue base with severe leadership problems.
"The Afghani kill team, the rise in suicide rates, the rise in domestic violence issues, sexual assaults, DUI's it kinda fit perfectly,” he said.
In an already tough security situation now worse in the wake of the shootings, Fred worries about US troops still on the ground in Afghanistan and those still waiting to deploy.