A Tone Deaf Portrayal of Veterans Just Before Veterans Day on ‘Chicago P.D.’

November 8th, 2018 1:29 AM

In just a few days we will honor our nation’s bravest heroes during Veterans Day. NBC’s Chicago P.D., however, ran an episode November 7 depicting an Afghanistan war veteran suffering from PTSD and unwilling to seek help so het sets off bombs and takes hostages at a Mosque. Talk about tone deaf.

In “Trigger,” the Chicago Police Department infiltrates a mosque and works with Homeland Security to find a bomber. Suspecting it is a member of the mosque that set off a bomb at the Army recruitment office, Officer Kevin Atwater (Laroyce Hawkins) poses as a Muslim ready to help with violence against Americans. The mosque’s Imam, Akeem, is controversial, but denies that he and the mosque are behind the violence. Meanwhile, another bomb goes off at a VA hospital.

As the storyline progresses, the CPD at first suspects an Afghani interpreter, but it turns out the interpreter had saved many American lives in service and was working to become an American citizen when he committed suicide, despondent about being a suspect.

They soon discover it was Jake Miller (Quincy Dunn-Baker), an American veteran who was a lone survivor when his patrol was hit by an IED. His wife says Miller is triggered by the five calls to prayer each day that can be heard at his house from the mosque nearby. She says, "He hasn't been okay since he got back. He needs help."

In his mind, Muslims are still enemy combatants. Miller believes that Akeem and the mosque are funding terrorists to kill American soldiers like his fallen comrades so he seeks revenge; first by trying to frame them for the bombings, then by storming the mosque with a gun and suicide belt demanding to speak to Akeem.

As Miller holds about 30 men hostage inside the mosque, awaiting the arrival of Akeem, Detective Jay Holstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) volunteers to go in and help Atwater, who is among the hostages and unarmed. Holstead also feels a connection to Miller as a veteran himself.



Jay: Jake? It's Jay Halstead. I'm unarmed, all right?
Jake: Everybody face the wall! You take another step, I blow this place.
Jay: I hear--I hear you, man. We're working on Akeem. That's why I'm here. I gotta see proof of life, Jake. You know how this works, right? So I'm coming out, okay? I'm unarmed. See? No vest. I got no gun. Keeping my hands raised, okay? Just gotta make sure everybody's okay. That's good. That's good, it looks like nobody's hurt. That means you and I got a way out of here. 'Cause I'm gonna be honest, Jake, things are gonna go bad for you really quick if you don't let me help you.
Jake: You bring me Akeem or I drop these people one combatant at a time.
Jay: Please, Jake, don't-- don't do this, okay? There is another solution. You just gotta let me help you. Just let me help. Put the gun down. Hand me the remote. You and I can walk out the front door together. I promise you I'm not gonna let anything happen to you. Okay? You gotta let me help you. Jake. Look at--look at them. They're terrified right now, Jake. They're not combatants, man. They're civilians, Jake. They're citizens. They're people. Jake. They're Americans. You swore to protect them. What are you doing?
Jake: That's as far as you come.
Jay: Okay.
Jake: What, you think I'm crazy? Huh?
Jay: No, no, I don't. I don't.
Jake: You think this is PTS, this is... trauma from the war? You think I'm having an episode, huh?
Jay: Maybe, Jake.
Jake: I don't think I'm over there. No. I'm in my own backyard. I'm standing on my soil. Don't you get it, Halstead? You were there! You remember! These people have come to destroy us. But nobody gets it because we're all too busy tweeting about the president. We're posting pictures of our dogs. You want to help me? You bring me Akeem. Bring me Akeem.
Jay: Buddy. Think of your wife right now. Think of your wife.
Jake: You bring me Akeem now, or I kill them.
Jay: Please don't do this, Jake.
Jake: You don't think I'll do it.
Jay: Miller. You are a war hero, Miller. Act like it.
Jake: Yeah, you're damn right I am. And this ends now.

Sadly, Miller is killed as he reaches for the button to detonate the bomb in his backpack. Holstead had to shoot him to save everyone else.

Holstead admits, as the episode ends, that he, too, is carrying around anger and bias from his days in the war. Perhaps this episode will encourage other veterans to seek help if they are having trouble coping with civilian life, but I fear instead it will do more harm than good with its portrayal of the dangerous and unstable veteran trope. Our suffering veterans deserve help, not to be used for a sensationalized storyline by a liberal Hollywood that clearly doesn't respect them.