KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — Members of one Kyle neighborhood came together Sunday to help those whose cars had been vandalized by a string of tire slashings — as well as to help shed a light on veterans struggling with their mental health.
Earlier this month, more than 30 cars were damaged in Kyle’s Woodlands and Cool Springs neighborhoods, according to police. The family of the man charged in connection with the slashings said in a statement to KXAN that he’s an army veteran struggling with PTSD and other mental illnesses, and apologized for his actions.
“We apologize for the issues that were caused by our family member’s actions. He is an Army veteran who suffers from PTSD along with multiple other mental illnesses,” the family said in a statement. “We are actively looking for help for him and are in contact with VA resources. His mother proposed that the Cool Springs HOA hold a fundraiser to remind us all that we are neighbors in this together.”
The mother of the suspect suggested the neighborhood host a fundraiser to help financially support those impacted. On Sunday, neighbors hosted a silent auction and bake sale, with proceeds set to be divvied up by those affected.
“So many people reached out and even the people who reached out to me and said ‘I had a tire slashed,’ they then followed up and said ‘what can I bring to help out the fundraiser?'” said Cady Lu, a Cool Springs resident and fundraiser co-organizer. “And so it’s just been a lot of community support and outpouring of just wanting to help.”
Resident Joyce Kaloustian approached Lu about the idea after speaking with the suspect’s mom, who’s also Kaloustian’s neighbor. From there, Lu worked with the Cool Springs HOA’s social committee to help plan the event.
Kaloustian described the suspect’s mom as a kind and sweet woman and noted the severe, and often overlooked, mental health complications many veterans struggle with. Kaloustian said she hopes more people understand the nuances of veteran PTSD and mental health complications and approach this situation with empathy and grace.
Data from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing reports that 30% of active duty and reserve military personnel who were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have developed a mental health problem that requires treatment. Of that 30%, only half of them will receive treatment.
In Texas, 514 veterans died from suicide in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. While that number wasn’t significantly higher than national rates, the VA noted the figure was substantially higher than the general population’s suicide rate.
While Kaloustian said there was frustration and negativity surrounding the situation at first, she said she commended the family’s effort to apologize and help put on Sunday’s fundraiser. She urged people reserve judgment toward the suspect, adding it can be easy to judge the situation without knowing his full backstory.
“I helped the mom get in touch with resources to make sure he received care to deal with his mental issues,” she said. “I think it’s great that everybody is just willing to come together and help each other out.”