Mr Washam, now married and father to a five-year-old-son, took part in an antelope hunt that Kyle helped arrange for wounded veterans. The former Navy SEAL drove more ten hours through the night to make sure the hunt site was ready when the troops arrived.

“It just shows the heart of Chris that he was willing to drive across Texas for that,” Mr Washam said.

But the former soldier’s voice hardens with anger as he talks about the VA’s decision not keep Routh under psychiatric supervision.

“They turned around and let this guy out and he goes on to murder two people. Someone at the VA dropped the ball and what are they doing about it? Did someone get fired or are they just going to be reassigned? That sh– happens all the time,” he said.

The Dallas VA said it was planning to put out a statement about its interactions with Routh but at the time of publication no statement had arrived.