With the release of the news that a Soldier in Iraq killed five of his own, it made me do some thinking as to why this would happen. I have spoke to many people on the subject, plus have been around a few who have served in the war in the Middle East including my youngest son who is in Kuwait as I write this
Why this Soldier decided to turn his gun on his own people I do not know and who knows maybe we will never know his reasoning, but I do know some reasons Soldiers go nuts and turn on their own military families. With the release of this short news article I was compelled me to write this article.
First of all I want to tell you about a guy I know who did three tours in Iraq a few years ago when the place was a killing field. He was a Marine. You know one of the first to enter enemy territory and maybe who will make it through the ruble maybe not. The guys the Military really do not seem to care about, the guys who are the first to enter and cross enemy lines.
Well anyways, he was a sniper, 23 years old and dropped in the middle of a hot zone. Not once but three different tours of duty and seeing many things that to this day still he will not talk about. I met him after tour one when he returned home. He seemed normal and full of life. He had nothing except good things to say about the Marines and was a true warrior.
After his return home after tour number two, he had changed. Didn’t carry the same smiling face and had become harder and older for his young 24 years on this earth. He told me stories of what he had seen in Iraq and why he felt it important for the United States to be involved with this war. He truly believed in the cause and resons for what was happening there and once more he was called to duty and was deployed for tour number three.
This was a short tour only three months in the sand box this time and then home once more he came. When he returned to the states he seemed to have grown very old. His thoughts and dreams had been shadowed by the terrible events he had witnessed in that foreign land. The smile he pocessed had disappeared into a drawn unhappy place with closed mouth and did not want to relive the tragedies he had witnessed. He seemed locked in a room and could not seem to find his way out.
One day I received a phone call from him. He seemed very upset and told me he needed to see me. Not that he wanted to see me, so that set off a red flag and I agreed to meet him. When I arrived he seemed very anxious and jittery. He wanted to be held close but had nothing to say except he did not think he could get through another day. He said he did not have anything left to live for. His life was not the same as before his third tour of duty. Nothing seemed real, everything felt like a dream and he was trying to just wake up.
As I sat with him and consoled him and tried to make him see the beauty of life itself. I felt scared inside and would not leave him be until I was truly sure he was going to be ok. Was he a sufferer of PTSD? Of course he was and is.
After that a few weeks later he called and told me after I met him that day he went straight to a mental hospital and checked himself in. He knew that if he didnt the ghosts would continue to haunt him and if I was not accessable on a day he needed me , he felt he may not make it through it. He also informed me that on the day we had met he was carrying his M-16 in the trunk of his car, After our meeting his intention was to drive to the near by woods, park his car and blow his head off. Our meeting was not ment to be a counseling session but rather a way for him to say goodbye to me. He did not expect our hours of just talking and me making him see the world is not a horrible place, just where he had been and what he had seen was bad. I helped him through this emotional rollercoaster and also made him realize suicide was not the answer.
Today he is not in the Military any longer, but still holds a very high pride for anyone who serves. He has regained his life and sees the sun when it is out and finds good in it. Will his memories ever go away? No probabably not but they have seemed to fade with treatment so he can at least try to live a some what normal life.
My next story is about another boy who grew up with my children and is my youngest sons best friend. This boy is like one of my own.
He was in the Army and did two tours in Iraq when it was a hot zone. He saw a lot of bad things but lived to tell the tales and to return home. He got out last spring and came home. This was right before my youngest son Ethan joined the Navy. I spent a lot of time with this boy after his return and realized he was not living here in the Unites States but rather in his mind he was still on duty in Iraq. That is all he spoke of was that place and what he saw. He woke all the time in sweats and the sound of the slightest noise would send him straight to the floor because in his mind they were shooting at him.
My daughter worked with him and told him he needed to get some help and would drive him to the VA Hospital so he could get it. He kept putting it off and never went, even with her telling him all the time he needed to go. My son was deployed for his first tour in Kuwait and a couple months after he left my daughter called me in tears. Ethans friend had been called back for tour number three. He leaves next week for Afghanistan. Does he suffer from PTSD? Yes, I know he does from his actions, did he get help? No ! Are they still sending him back to the place where it all began? Yes they are. Will he come home safely? I do not know and as I lay awake each night thinking and worrying about my own son now I also have worry and fears for his friend.
My beliefs are that this is one reason things like soldiers turning on their own happens. They are not living in the real world. They are stuck between this world and the world of war which tramatize them each and every day. Is PTSD real? Of course it is, but legislation seems to be having a hard time in determining if they should pay benefits to those who encounter this horrible mind altering disorder. Are they nuts? I do belive they are. How can you take someone a young man or woman, use them for what you want to use them for, expect them to honor whatever the Military asks then be thrown back into society without help being able to cope.
Did this soldier on the front page of yahoo have PTSD? I do not know, but something made this soldier loose control and kill those who trusted him with their own lives. My thoughts and prayers do go out to all those involved with this tragic event.
Maybe the military should pay closer attention to those who are in the middle of the war zone and help them, instead of just watching them loose their minds.