In Emotional Hearing, Maine Shooter’s Relatives Describe Efforts to Get Him Psychiatric Help

Family members of the Army reservist who killed 18 people last fall in Lewiston, Maine, opened up on Thursday about their grief, remorse and anger in testimony before the commission investigating the shooting.

Frequently struggling to maintain their composure, relatives of the gunman, Robert R. Card II, apologized to the families of his victims and shared wrenching accounts of the months leading up to the shooting, when they repeatedly tried to get help for the troubled 40-year-old as his mental health deteriorated.

Nicole Herling, Mr. Card’s sister, addressed some of her most pointed remarks to the Army and Defense Department, calling for a clearer, more accessible system for families of military members to share concerns with their supervisors. Ms. Herling also said that the military should provide more education about the risk of brain injury to soldiers and reservists like her brother.

Mr. Card, a longtime Army Reserve grenade instructor, was exposed to thousands of blasts in his years of training cadets; trauma detected in his brain by scientists after his death has raised questions about the effects of the repeated exposures on his mental health.

“I brought the helmet that was meant to safeguard my brother’s brain,” Ms. Herling said on Thursday, placing a camouflage-patterned helmet on the table before her in a room on the University of Maine campus in Augusta. “To the Department of Defense: It failed.”

The Army and Defense Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Army has previously said that it is “committed to understanding, mitigating, accurately diagnosing, and promptly treating blast overpressure and its effects in all forms.”

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