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Another Tragedy that Illustrates Mental Illness Still Taboo

America needs to step it up when it comes to caring for its veterans and those with mental illness.

by
Becky Graebner

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August 12, 2013 - 4:00 pm
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Officer Jennifer Sebena is laid to rest.

A wounded Iraq War veteran who gunned down his wife, a Wauwatosa police officer, while she was on duty Christmas Eve will get a life sentence on Friday.

But Benjamin Sebena should at least have a chance for parole, according to a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday that details the psychological and physical effects of his combat experience, including a claim to have killed 68 people during his military service.

The memo also suggests Sebena believes he killed his wife, Jennifer Sebena, so she’d go to heaven, fearful she’d follow a threat to take her own life if he committed suicide first.

Sebena tried to pursue an insanity plea, but doctors who examined him said his condition did not support it, though he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

This is the summary of a sad story that I have been following since December.  Not only because the victim’s family was friends with mine, but also because this tragedy illustrates two cracks in America: support for returning war veterans and the “lock ‘em up” attitude towards criminals with mental illness.

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