Dear editor,

Our mental health system fails yet again. Now, my father’s and family’s name has been discredited and humiliated.

I’m the proud daughter of Jerome Scooler — the burglar, the criminal you’ve painted a clear picture of. What you failed to mention is that my father has a mental illness.

What you’re probably thinking is ‘That’s not my problem.’ Very true and correct. Growing up, my father was a very loving, generous, kindhearted, giving and an irreplaceable piece to my family’s puzzle.

In the last five years, my father has lost a brother, sister, aunt but also a very close cousin. Needless to say, much grief, turmoil and loss has gone through our family. Does that make it OK to break into someone’s home? Absolutely not.

What’s not fair is painting him as a ruthless criminal, even though our county (Okaloosa) has failed on numerous occasions to give him the treatment and diagnosis that he has needed for years. My father has been to the Okaloosa Bridgeway Center three times in the last three years through Baker Act admissions.

That being said, my father has been seen by numerous amounts of doctors and psychiatrist in the last year. Yet, no one has diagnosed my father accurately. Our family has screamed out for help from the police department, Bridgeway Center and Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. Yet, here we are.

My father, who is now sitting at the Santa Rosa Jail in the psychiatric ward, [was] finally put on medication. Some may ask themselves, ‘Does that make sense?’ No.

Why is it OK for a person that has a mental disease to be painted as a ruthless criminal, yet hasn’t received decent treatment until he is apprehended by police? You tell me. When are we going to make a change to our mental health system?

Are we just going to keep letting the mentally ill in this community live a hard, struggling life, or are we going to give them the fair treatment and diagnosis that any human should deserve?

We are not discrediting the family’s home that was invaded and the fear that placed on them. My father left the Friday before, with no money, a tank of gas and lost thoughts. His vehicle ran out of gas, his phone was dead and he was trying to get out of the cold. My father ran unarmed because he was scared and not in his right thoughts.

No making any excuses, but asking for humility.

AMANDA BIRR

Fort Walton Beach

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