Parents Of Westview School Vandal Describe History Of Mental Illness

Friday, August 15, 2014

The parents of a 22-year-old man caught inside a heavily-vandalized Westview Elementary School in a public letter have outlined his lifetime of what they called mental illness.

Michael and Laura Roden, who adopted Aaron Roden when he was three weeks old, said he was an "angry" child during his early years at school.

They say it was in middle school "when hell came to visit." They said he became "defiant and unmanageable."

The parents said he was sent to a wilderness school and to counseling, but it did not help. They said he has never had a full mental evaluation because insurance would not pay for it.

The Rodens said after he left home he got into more trouble and was incarcerated for a year. They said he was such a problem in jail that he was put into solitary confinement.

Ms. Roden said, "An estimated 30 percent of the inmate population in this country suffer from mental health issues, but rather than treat them, our society has chosen to warehouse them for awhile and then put them back on the streets to repeat the cycle. The total inadequacy and callousness of the health insurance industry in regards to mental health treatment compounds the problem.

"Aaron is bright and personable, and was trying very hard to put his past behind him and start a new life. He had moved to Chattanooga and had enrolled to start college. He was looking forward to the future. However, a series of events over the past two weeks caused him to spiral downward again, and we have been told he attempted to take his own life by overdosing.

"Our son is not a criminal. Our son has an illness that needs to be properly assessed, diagnosed and treated, just like any other. Society's fear, shame and otherwise inability to deal with mental health illness has been devastating to our country. Each time Aaron is sent away, we experience a "death." but with the added terror that this dreaded cycle will repeat again and again.

"We love our son. Aaron is 22 and should have a long life ahead of him. He has many of the tools to be a successful adult and productive citizen. We would have thought that would be what society would want. It is our prayer that he gets the treatment he needs. We ask for your prayers as well."

Michael Roden is an assistant district attorney in Nashville.   


Sign Up To Get The Latest News, Opinions From Chattanoogan.com In Real Time; Win Set Of Chattanooga Photo Books

Sign up for our Facebook and Twitter feeds and you will get the  local news in "real time." You will also be entered for a chance to win the complete set of the Chattanooga Photo Books published by Chattanoogan.com. We will give away three sets of The Remarkable Stokes Collection, Railroads In and Around Chattanooga and Paul Hiener's Historic Chattanooga to our new Facebook ... (click for more)

Police Blotter: Man Breaking Into Car Had Just Locked His Keys Inside; Panhandler Had Full Tank Of Gas

Police were notified that someone was trying to break into a vehicle's window at Mid Nite Oil on Lee Highway. Upon arrival, police learned that it was a misunderstanding. Gary M. Gengan reported that he had locked his vehicle with the keys inside and requested police for assistance. He did report that he was trying to break the window because he did not have much choice. The vehicle ... (click for more)

Tom Edd Wilson Was A Great Visionary

We want to add to the many heart-felt messages that have been expressed regarding the recent passing of Tom Edd Wilson, a truly great visionary.    While he made his mark on many local organizations, Tom Edd will always hold a special place in the hearts of those who worked closely with him at Erlanger.   We benefited greatly from his steady guidance, leadership ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Luther’s B-17 Showed Up

I am a huge sap for our veterans and just the other days a reader shared the ultimate story about a guy who returned to his sweetheart at the end of World War II. The little town of Miller. Missouri, is located in the southwest corner of the state and the biggest thing to ever happen in Lawrence County is when a native son, James Lawrence, hollered “Don’t Give Up The Ship” in the ... (click for more)

Inclement Weather Forces Cancellation Of Thursday Night's Lookouts Game

Not only was Tropical Storm Cindy responsible for the cancellation of Tuesday's Southern League All-Star Game, but now the storm has also resulted in the cancellation of Thursday night's game at AT&T Field with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The First Half North Division Champion Lookouts announced that Thursday's (6/22) game has been postponed due ... (click for more)

Cleveland High School Selects Joey Knox As Head Wrestling Coach

Cleveland High School has selected Joey Knox as the next head coach for the Blue Raider Wrestling program.  Coach Knox has been with the wrestling program as an assistant since 2013.  During his assistant coaching tenure, the team has secured six Team State Championships, including five individual State Champions and 20 State Medalists.    Cleveland High ... (click for more)