Veteran Speaks Out After His Truck Was Defaced By A Vandal

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Murderer That one word can be vicious when uttered as an insult. Livio Waits spent ten years in the military and served as a sniper in Iraq. He now uses his combat experience in his work at the Battlefield Vegas gun range in Las Vegas, Nevada – a range which allows people to experience firing military grade weapons.

A proud veteran, Waits displays his status on the license plates of his pickup. Which is probably why a person unknown decided to etch the word “Murderer” into the paint on said pickup. The incident happened when the truck was parked overnight at his home in Henderson.

He found it the morning of March 17 – and was hit hard by it. Likely, it was somebody opposed to the war…

But regardless of one’s feelings about whether we should have troops active in the Middle East, attacking our troops is not the way to show these sentiments.

There have been other incidents – a marine veteran in Colfax, NC chased away intruders to find “F- Marines” etched onto the side panel and hood of his truck in October 2013. In December 2014 two Arizona veterans, one of them a Purple Heart holder named Liby, also had their vehicles vandalized. One of them had gasoline put in the tank of his diesel truck, destroying the engine.

Why do people do things like this? If these attacks were against anyone other than veterans, they would be all over the news as hate crimes. But with unpopular military action overseas, some people seem to think it’s okay to do this to people who have risked their lives in the service of their country. Patriotism, apparently, is a crime these days…or at least makes you a target for people who would rather not express their opposition to the war by, you know, sane things like writing their congressman. These people face risk and danger in the line of their duty – four and a half thousand US military members have been killed in Iraq and many more, like Liby, have been seriously hurt or maimed. IEDs often leave soldiers – in some cases men and women not even technically in combat roles – missing limbs or parts of limbs. Nearly 35,000 troops were listed as wounded in action between 2003 and 2010, and another almost 20,000 in Afghanistan. These people take risks. They have chosen to go where their country needs them, and they don’t need to come home to vilification and accusations.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 8.28.11 AMIt’s not clear why Waits in particular was targeted or whether there was any reason for it other than the license plate. Did they somehow know Waits was a sniper? (Snipers are often called murderers by protesters). Did it have any connection to his work at the gun range – two years ago an instructor at a similar range in Kingsman was accidentally killed by a nine-year-old girl who was shooting a weapon she should in no way have been allowed to touch? Anti-gun protestors may not much care for a place like Battlefield Vegas, which among other things offers the Sniper Experience (three different sniper rifles) or the Heavy Strike Package (which goes all the way up to the MG-42). Did somebody follow Waits home? The stalker-ish nature of the attack is enough to make even a combat veteran feel unsafe. (And really, is it wise to make a combat veteran feel unsafe?)

Police are still investigating, but in the meantime, Waits was the victim of an emotional and psychological assault – not to mention the cost of fixing his truck. With other incidents all through the country, how long are we going to tolerate attacks on our veterans? Being in the military does not make you part of a protected class when it comes to hate crime legislation, but surely there’s something that can be done to deal with these vandals if they can be caught.

Photo Courtesy: fox5vegas.com

Being a true patriot, Waits has no intention of getting rid of his veteran license plates and has no regrets about his military service – calling it “the best thing he’s ever done.” He and those like him deserve better than the way he was treated in this instance. They deserve our support, not our hate speech. In the mean time, we can hope that the police catch the miscreants that did this and throw the book at them. Nevada has victim restitution laws – meaning that if they’re caught then on top of everything else they will have to pay to fix his truck. They might also have to pay fines, do customer service or even do time, especially if Waits’ truck was parked on his property (trespassing with intent to vandalize is a separate crime). I think we can all think of some appropriate community service for people like that.

So, let’s hope the Henderson police catch them. And anyone else who thinks it’s somehow “entertaining” to attack those who have risked their lives in the service of this country or their families. Our veterans go through a lot, often even after they come home. Let’s give them our full support.

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