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Military suicides: the enemy within
Marine Private Lazzaric Caldwell with a Thai Marine colonel on an official trip to Thailand in 2008.
January 9th, 2013
11:48 AM ET

Military suicides: the enemy within

By Libby Lewis, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) - Lazzaric Caldwell almost joined the dark group of military troops who kill themselves.

These are his thoughts just before he cut his wrists in his barracks a couple of years ago:

[:03] "I started to think, what would happen when I’m out of the Marine Corps? With having PTSD, the first thing that popped into my mind was, not to be funny, but one of the Vietnam vets who’s lost his marbles, and is on the side of the road with that sign. I was crying on the phone, telling my Dad that I was sorry for everything that was about to happen."

He lived. And the Marine Corps prosecuted him for trying to kill himself. The Corps argued Caldwell’s act of intentional self-injury harmed the order and discipline of his unit and discredited the military.

Now, the highest military court is considering whether it was right for the Marine Corps to convict him, at a time when the military is trying to stem a tide of suicides in its ranks.

Caldwell’s case has prompted the Pentagon to review its rules for dealing with suicide attempts.

Lazzaric Caldwell joined the Marines for the reason so many young men and women do: to get a better life and get out of trouble’s way.

But it turns out, he walked right into it. Listen to hear the rest of his story.

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soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Dale F. Hill

    As a disabled vet, I have to say the way the VA treated me upon release was horrible. I needed three surgeries to add functionality to my life, relieve pain, and remove scar tissue. At the time I lived in a big city near a regional VA. They treated me like crap. I waited nearly 10 hours on a gurney in a hallway, nude, covered only with a sheet, awaiting surgery. Each time I asked when I would go in, the girl behind the counter got more and more upset. After many hours I asked again and she shouted "WHAT DO YOU WANT!" I said, to be treated like a human being. My wife was out of control, I told her to get my clothes and she got me out of there. That was my very first surgery, a few weeks after my medical discharge. That was my first, but not my worst experience, with the VA. I lived in basement, drank all day, every day, for almost two tears straight. I had this over riding feeling that I wished I had died, because I was so useless. The VA treated my like I was there for a handout, so I stopped going. Slowly, I reconnected with some Army buds who were also disabled,and we pieced it back together.

    I eventually moved back to my reservation a few years ago. I haven't been to the VA in years. In my will I directed my family not accept anything from that organization. My tribe takes very good care of me. I am still young, and my life has purpose again.

    I was in the Army for many years. I miss it dearly. I was an Airborn Ranger, and I knew the greatest men in the world. And when my career ended, I met the most useless people in the world, they're easy to find, they're at the VA. My friends have told me to let it go, that the VA has changed but I am passed that now I don't care. I will always remember those dark hours when no one would help me or my brothers.

    After reading this article, I see some things will never change. I have one statement to make: if the VA is so great at helping veterans, why are there so many non-profit organizations out there helping disabled veterans?

    January 13, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Bernhardt

      FTA was our motto as Vietnam era draftees. I did my job as a 13B40 & was discharged in Oakland in 1970 and never looked back. 35 years later I discovered the Vet Centers & they ended up saving my life due to their caring I was diagnosed with PTSD and treated respectfully. I am now a veterans advocate living in Colorado and receive treatment at the BEST VA hospital in the US. Do not hesitate to contact me for more details. Peace, David

      January 15, 2013 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. Nevada

    I am currently a leader in the Nevada Army National Guard. I have served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan (two active duty and one national guard) since March 2003. Most recently I am a survivor of a mass murder (September 6, 2011) when a gunman entered the IHOP restaurant an opened fire with an AK47 assualt rifle killing 4 and leaving numerous wounded before taking his own life. I had just returned from my last tour in Afghanistan and was on my second day back to work when this tragedy occured. Unfortunately just before this past Thanksgiving (2012) I recieved news that a Soldier of mine from this last depoyement was involved in a murder-suicide. Our unit was one that was created for the deployment but disbanded upon our return and Soldiers were reassigned to other units in Nevada. These past 2 years has been a truly difficult one given the amount of tragedy and sacrafice our family and friends have endured. With all this said I can say that if it wasn't for the support from family. friends, and counselors that I am not sure where I might of ended up.

    We recently as the Army conducted a Suicide Stand Down (October 2012) to conduct training for our Soldiers and Leaders to understand how life issues can take one of our "Battle Buddies" into a dark place and what our responsibilities as family, friends, coworkers, and especially Leaders are. How do we recognize someone who is at risk? What do we do? What will people think if I seek behavioral health services? How will seeking behavioral health affect my career? We discussed multiple situations and what we could do in each. We also discussed the second, third, and fourth order affects when a suicide happens.

    In all the discussions, there was a common denominator...LEADERS MUST TALK TO THEIR SOLDIERS!!!! We are responsible for the Soldiers we lead and there families. If a Soldier is having difficulty at work or on mission there is most likely an underlying issue that they feel difficult or ashamed to talk about. They don't see how it is affecting there life at work but most importantly at home with family relationships such as there spouse and/or children. We as leaders have many options we can use, both military and civilian, to help our Soldiers through difficult times. We are all human and we will all have times of difficulty that we may need another to help guide us through. We as Leaders can only address an issue if we know about. We must also understand that if we don't talk to our Soldiers that we might be missing something. The saying "No news is good news" does not apply here. I recently asked my unit "Are you being the leader you should be, that if one of your Soldiers are at their darkest, you are on their call for help list?" This applies also to our relationships with family, friends, neighbors and so forth.

    With all this said and given my past experiences, I am proud to say that I as a senior leader I do go to counseling. I find it not only helpful with the experiences and images that deal with, but also how I can better recognize warning signs. I have now reached a point that I consider it more as professional leader development. I use this information with my Soldiers, peers, leaders, and family. I am working to ensure that the associated stigma with military mental health is placed in the history books and that we develop stronger, more resilient leaders who will one day lead our children within the ranks of our military.

    January 11, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jake

    In March 2009 my unit had just redeployed to our Fort Hood base from a year in East Baghdad. I was a medic and a month before the end of our tour I watched a better man and soldier than I dying as I tried to do anything that would help. I ultimately had to leave him to work on two others who had a fighting chance. I finished my tour and a few days after we had barracks, I tried to take my life with a tourniquet fastened around my neck. Ironically a member of my platoon who had been heading out for the evening was the one who returned to my room having forgotten "something" and found and saved me. I managed to be honorably discharged at the end of my contract in August of that same year, but it required some half-truths and careful tip toeing around answers given to ARMY psychiatrists. I still struggle with that one day more than any other in my deployments but I have to say I did wake up with a different outlook when Romero saved me. I sort of consider this my second chance at getting things right. I don't have a solution for so many soldiers going the route I did, I know where their heads are though, you feel like you're too messed up to ever function as a normal citizen and so many thoughts and voices screaming you don't deserve to live...eventually you either ask for help or not.

    January 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SgtS

    As an Iraqi veteran, and a service member who is on their way out (counting down the days to separation) I would first like to thank all prior and current military members and military family members who have commented on this story. I still get a little shaken when I hear loud booms that occur without obvious reason. I will always remember the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines I saw rolling off a helicopter in pieces and various states of disarray. Am I weak? I don’t think I could count myself as a human if I could deal with all of the aspects of the war I saw without feeling something...without my own humanity being questioned. War is a horrible thing. I have served for 12 years, and come from a military family. The US was a war-less country for almost 10 years when I joined. That being said, the country today is something very different than it was when my father went to Iraq. Still, military personnel cannot choose what war or what political agenda they support, or even what place they go to. We can't so much as ensure we will be around for our kid’s birthdays. Something else to consider, basic trainees today are NOTHING like the trainees when I came in…let alone what they were like 20 years ago. Kids today don’t even have monkey bars at playgrounds! I-things and video games and entitlement until the day they join the Army and head to Iraq. If you aren’t prepared for the devastation, you won’t do well. That doesn’t mean anyone is weak. Is the military man that cries because he saw his battle buddy get blown away weak? If he can’t every get rid of the memories or the guilt and it drives him to seek help (which the military tells us is healthy) and they diagnose him with PTSD…is he weak? I don’t care if you have a permanent bed in some Afghani post; no one has the right to judge another’s life experiences. We serve, and we are a small group of Americans willing to give up their homes, comfort, and lives for the country and freedoms we love. We should not be on an international news site calling each other weak. I have known 4 military members that have taken their own lives. I feel terrible for their families and units, and I wish there were something I could have done to stop them. However, I cannot judge them, because I don’t know the entirety of their struggles. Congratulations for all of you who are super troopers on a level all your own. I deployed and came out fine too. But I am no better than this marine, and I am not impervious to struggle. I hope he gets the support and help he needs. Although, his military services should end, for his mental well being and the safety of the military serving beside him.

    January 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously, people

      Well said.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Harold Harrison

    Harry the Marine – Viet Nam 68-69
    In order to comment on military suicides you must have real life experiences. It does not take long for someone to look in mirror to realize you are in trouble. Yes the Corp provided the best training a marine can get in defeating your combat enemy. When enemy is demon inside your head no training was provided to deal with hell inside your mind. You have two options, one follow through with ending your life or confront the enemy by not giving in for rest of your life. Don’t be shy to get help for yourself, demand nothing less and live a long life.

    It takes a strong person with will power to overcome a life time of PTSD. Yes I do believe in myself. Yes my friends are my brother veterans, serving to help one another till the end of time. No one has the right to convict you of crime that has no merit to it. Treat veterans alive or dead with respect and honor.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. WakeUp48

    Perhaps we should be asking our pharmaceutical manufacturers and FDA why no long-term independent studies have been done on whether or not these psychiatric medications can influence violent behavior, suicide, homicide, and ultimately, mass murder. Military use of psychiatric drugs rose to one in six according to another. Suicide is now officially the number one cause of U.S. active-duty soldier death, prompting retired solider and clinical psychologist Bart Billings to ask Congress for long-term studies into a possible connection between the killing one’s self and the spike is military SSRI prescriptions.

    January 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Army Wife

      @ Charles. First I would like to thank you for your service and congratulate you on being 'strong willed' and not weak. You appear to be an expert on how to leave your combat stress at work. In reading your response it sounds as if you are 5 months into your first deployment? In advance I would like to thank you for your service. I also think that it is attitudes such as yours, labeling people with PTSD 'weak'. I would be curious how many times that you have deployed, also what the lengths were, as well as your MOS. Your MOS has a lot to do with what kind of action you see and to which you are involved. The same as your rank, whether enlisted or an officer has a direct correlation to your level of responsibility. I wonder if you deployed to Iraq during the invasion, I wonder how many times you have had to pull the trigger or give an order in which you know resulted in the death of another? How many people are you responsible for, a squad, platoon, company, battalion? How many bodies of fellow soldiers have you carried as you think of their sacrifice, their families and their children? I would encourage you not to judge, but to have an open mind and support your fellow soldiers, sailors and airmen. There is nothing weak about having PTSD!!! How dare you call your fellow service members weak? I only hope that when you return from this deployment whether it is your first or your tenth that you do not have flashbacks; horrible dreams, survivors guilt or anything else that is more common than people will admit. I hope that you are not, how did you put it 'weak'? But that you are strong enough to seek help when needed and that your friends are supportive and not have the same close minded views as you. Thank you all for your service and sacrifice!

      January 10, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Injured Soldier

    As an injured soldier I know all too well how the US military treats those who are injured, whether "physically injured" or "mentally injured" if the military can't use you because of an injury they could care less about you, they screw you over any and all ways possible. I have to file bankruptcy now because the military refuses to pay for the surgery that I needed for the injury I got on duty!! My friend and battle buddy who has PTSD gets crap every time from our higher ups, telling her that she is making it up and that she needs to "suck it up". It's disgusting! Billions of dollars go to the VA, but not for the "Care of our Soldiers" but the money goes to the paper pushers who make sure that the soldiers "paperwork" gets lost or not done in time, which means the soldier has to refile.

    January 10, 2013 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. Libby Lewis

    This set of comments makes me very glad I'm a journalist, mostly. There is so much experience and thoughtfulness here. To Patty: I investigated the facts behind all the other charges involving Pvt. Caldwell, and found they weren't relevant to this story.

    January 9, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • ACSlater

      Libby,
      What about this specific solider made his story any more relevant or more important than the other people who are suffering from exact same illness? You sleazy tactics are two-fold; (1) report on PSTD because you know some people hate the war and (2) attack the marine corps for kicking someone out who has such extreme mental problems. Good Job, Libby. Excellent way to show your craft.

      January 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Just another reader

    They load our kids up with multiple deployments, pep pill and other medications like they were candy to help deal with stress over there. Then once there done with them they drop them off at the first available corner outside of the base with very little assistance and they wonder why they have problems. Disposable Heroes, very sad.

    January 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mike

    The way America's going and what it's turning into i would never fight for this nation. I think anyone that thinks about fighting for what America's turning into is a pure idiot. I think states will start rethinkin if they want to stay in this union. I know whatever states takes that step im moving to it. America sucks now.

    January 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Freedom Fascist

    All of this BS about whose to blame. All of these empty headed soldiers: "suck it up, if we're ordered to do it we're justified" and all of these mushy bleedhearts: "soldiers are thugs that dig their own grave". All of it is laughable. The sooner we wake up in this country the better. Solution to all of these stupid "tribute to soldiers" and "happy holidays from the front"...ready? STOP FIGHTING MEANINGLESS WARS, STOP FUNDING A GROSSLY OVER INFALTED MILITARY THAT IS GOING TO HASTEN OUR DOWNFALL TO EPIC PROPORTIONS AND CALL TO JUSTICE THOSE WAR CRIMINALS RESPONSIBLE (cheney, bush, powell). JUSTICE FOR EVERYONE WHO HAS SUFFERED BECAUSE OF THESE UNJUST WARS. Shame to all who remain silent while world injustice roots itself in our own government.

    January 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Eva P

    War is a nasty business and if you go into that line of business, expect the worse and then suck it up. This is from a mother of two sons, both active career military.

    January 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gunnery Sergeant USMC Active Duty 1995-Present

      May god have mercy on your soul, should suicide hit close to home for you.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • Seriously, people

        +1, GySgt. PTSD doesn't necessarily mean you can't do the job you signed up for, but for family members, of all people, to say it's straight up weakness is just asking for trouble.

        January 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
        • Eva P

          FYI: My grandfather was a military doctor during 2 wars in Europe, my both parents were resistance fighters taken POW's during WWII, my husband served in the Air Force during Vietnam War, and both my sons were already deployed numerous times to the two most recent misguided wars in Asia. I guess we just come from a strong stock and survive with honor and dignity all the adversities thrown our way.

          January 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
        • Seriously, people

          Congratulations on your superior genetics. Too bad everyone's not that fortunate. No reasonable person would argue that war = PTSD 100% of the time, but I would be careful about ascribing moral or inherited superiority to the fact that your family hasn't felt any long-term effects from those wartime experiences, and I would certainly avoid talking down to people who have had problems. I would guess that at least a few members of your family who know people affected by wars know that not everyone comes out of it unscathed–and if no one will admit that, they're fooling themselves.

          January 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
        • Eva P

          Just as football comes with concussions and permanent knee damage, boxing comes with possible Parkinsonism, and serving in the military in time of war entails possible PTSD. I don't get it why is this so hard to grasp for so many.

          January 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
        • Seriously, people

          It's cool, we get it. Your boys didn't get concussions when they played football, which makes them so very much better than the couple kids who did get concussions (and that one guy who blew out his knee; f* him, what a weakling).

          January 9, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • ACSlater

        Bunny Sergeants are typically moronic idiots.

        January 9, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logan

      You make me sick lady.

      January 9, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • SGT-G

      Eva-P. A lack of an emotional response to the hardship of other human beings and your genetic disposition to war and a lack of empathy all point to the fact that your family has Sociopathic Tendencies. Which isn't necessary a bad thing. The goal of most military training is to create a manageable sociopath. Not to discredit the actions of the warriors in your family. Their actions are heroic, priceless, and worthy of praise. As someone who is on his 3rd deployment in 4 years, I can honestly say soldiers do heroic acts because the average man can not overcome his humanity to do what must be done. Some of us can live with such unnatural acts and be called heroes; and others of us can't wash the blood and screams from our memories. This is a simple truth.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
      • Miasmatic God

        The truth, spoken with pure eloquence; bravo, sir!

        January 10, 2013 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  13. Sue

    First PTSD, depression and suicide are illnesses caused by neurochemical imbalance. These problems occur related to natural environmental conditions, genetics, trauma issues and/or situations. The Marines are treating it like it's a decision someone makes. No one, with a functioning brain, in this century actually believes it's a crime. Second PTSD is as old as war and humans. In those days they had different names for it. The men and women in previous times didn't talk about it either. They became alcoholics, drug addicts and street people. They were placed in institutions (in straight jackets), locked in attics or put in jail. Often mental illness was considered contagious at best and a threat to public safety at worst. Luckily most of the military is figuring it out and providing more and better psychiatric services for our veterans.

    January 9, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheBurf

      Just a thought. As a former soldier (US Army) I sometimes wonder if PTSD symptoms are be exacerbated by the quality of life on a military base. I am not speaking to the military culture, but to the towns that many of the these bases reside in. Many (if not most) of these towns are filled with businesses that prey on young soldiers and have a male to female ratio of 5 to 1. It can be a pretty lonely existence if you do not have a strong network of friends. Source: my experience.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
      • SuperJ

        Thanks for your service and sacrifice to our country.

        January 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
        • Mike

          Yep, thanks. You're fighting for a real shit hole country now.

          January 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Vet's Daughter

    My Dad was in WWII and he was disabled due to PTSD. At the time it wasn't called that, but it was the same thing. He lived to be 86 and he never got over it. It isn't just the veteran that suffers. The families suffer too. You want to help them, but you don't know how to help. It breaks my heart to think about our young men over there. People think that they go serve our country and come home and that is the end of it. It is never completely over. If you haven't served or loved someone that has served you have no idea how they suffer.

    January 9, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Patty

    Odd how they left out of this article all of the other circumstances....like his conviction for larceny, drug possession and driving without a license or that he was in the process of also being disciplined for shoplifting from a store out in town.

    January 9, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • SM

      Odd how each of the allegations you listed are near exact characteristics of modern day PTSD.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  16. FedUpWithThisCrap

    I am not surprised by this at all. Since the suicide rates skyrocketed last year we had a suicide stand down where they kept telling everyone to get counseling if they need it, and suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.... Well guess what I went and got counseling and guess what, they requested all my counseling notes, if I did not turn them over I would be ruled unfit for duty and kicked out. I didn't attempt suicide, but went to counseling and now being treated like a horrible Soldier by those in charge of medical. I really tried to fight giving them the notes, but when they told me again they were going to kick me out unless I provided it to them, I've been in the military long enough that it is my career. Now I just sit and wait to see if medical considers me "fit for duty." I don't see how I wouldn't be, but who knows seeing that they are trying to downsize our military right now.

    January 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  17. palintwit

    Sarah Palin is the only one who can heal and re-unify our country. But first she must return to her motorhome and resume her cross country tour. She will have to visit cities both large and small, speaking only to "real Americans", dispensing her sage advice and folksy, homespun common sense solutions. We can be a great nation once again but we must all follow the "Palin Path".

    January 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Mad Matt

    Don't open your mouths with ignorant comments until you've been in the suck. All you keyboard commandos are welcome to come find me and see what PTSD is. Matthew Evans, Hopkinton, RI, 401-578-9997, call me if you feel like being a big man, but come and find me if you really are.

    January 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously, people

      Been there, done that. Afghanistan, 2010. As a fellow Rhode Islander, I'd swing by Hopkinton, except it's kind of a hike from Providence, plus I'm stationed overseas and don't get home that often. PTSD isn't what a lot of people think it is, though.

      January 9, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mad Matt

        Thank you for your service fellow Rhode Islander! All the years I was in I met one other person from RI, small state, small odds I guess?
        "ACSlater
        Why do people hate the truth? I am not the moron who posted his phone number on line so I could relive Smitty taking a bullet to the head everyday. I am just saying that real men dont get affect by this. Medical Science has proven this."

        I don't know who you are, or how old you are, but our country has obviously lost respect for those who fight. You have the right to be a "keyboard commando" because of all the people who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Where did you hear that "real men don't get affect (sic) by this. Medical science has proven this."? You're a little weasel who comes online to put down people who fight for your right to be an ignorant, small-minded, douchebag. Many good people have died in the name of war, unfortunately it wasn't you.

        January 10, 2013 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
        • Seriously, people

          I was in the base post office a couple months ago, and it turned out that all three of us in there were from RI. Other than that, I don't run into many, either. Thanks for your service, too.

          Meanwhile, ACSlater strikes me as someone commenting from the comfort of his mom's basement. Hopefully she's keeping him well supplied with Cheetos and Mountain Dew.

          January 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • ACSlater

      Why dont you sack up and stop whining. PTSD is a disease that is exists only in the ovaries, therefore a real man would never catch it.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • mih80128

        ACSlater, we are all now dumber for having been exposed to your ignorance.

        January 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
        • ACSlater

          Why do people hate the truth?

          I am not the moron who posted his phone number on line so I could relive Smitty taking a bullet to the head everyday. I am just saying that real men dont get affect by this. Medical Science has proven this.

          January 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
      • militarybrat

        Real men can't get PTSD? My grandfather was a soldier during World War II and survived time in a prisoner of war camp and a death march that killed many others. He was plagued with nightmares and alcoholism his entire life. There was nobody braver and tougher than my granddad. How dare you disparage his sacrifice.

        January 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
        • ACSlater

          You grandfather is a weak man with no testicles

          January 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tonia

      Matt, I know what it is and how bad the nightmares can be. The Marine Corps didn't do crap for me when I was getting out, but I was smart enough eventually to get help, after ruining a couple marriages, and almost screwing up my kids lives. For others out there. I am not the only one in my family with it. My little brother who is also a Marine has PTSD, he has done several tours over seas in the sandbox. But the one man who I've seen it do the most damage to, and mostly the main reason I joined the Corps, my Papa (grandfather) was a tunnel rat. He had to go through the tunnels with a flame thrower and kill people, some were women, some were children, but it was kill them or be killed your self because they had weapons. I spent my whole life wishing he would tell me I love you. That wondeful and strong man went to his grave without ever telling any of his grandchildren that he loved him. He showed us he loved us, but couldn't say it. Why, because PTSD messes with you in ways you can't imagine. The nightmares I have sometimes are worse then what you would see in any horror movie. So to the lady who's family got lucky and didn't catch the PTSD bug, go screw your self you witch. You should never put others down. By the way, I didn't see you standing next to me on those yellow footprints or wearing a set cammies so shut your mouth. You didn't put your self in harm's way, and you don't know the secrets your son's and other family memebers keep from you just so you can sleep at night. We don't go around telling people because doing so hurts the ones we love and causes them pain too. To those with PTSD, I know it sucks, there are good days and bad days. On your next bad bay just picture yourself throwing a bucket worth of stress balls and some librel idiot .

      January 9, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  19. M.E.

    Punished for mental illness. What is this the 50's or something? We know better than that, how come the military doesn't?

    January 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  20. david shoup

    strange isn't it that the WWll vets were able to handle life after war

    January 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Courtney

      Who said they were able to?

      January 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • NYVeteran

      WWII vets and WWI and all other wars had the same issues. You just didnt heat about it back then. LIke when cancer was whisprered, pregnent teens were wisked away to private schools in the dark of night, and crazy aunts were locked in the basement. The 1950s are over and bad things happened, they were just hidden from precious little darlings like you. Its called ignorance, avoidance and repression. You must me a republican from a red state or a congressman or an ostrich. You all have your heads in full rectal deffilade

      January 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
      • Cindy

        Well said. Just because something becomes visible to you, doesn't mean it didn't exist before.

        January 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
        • Caroline

          Terms like: BATTLE FATIGUE SYNDROME OR SHELL SHOCK SYNDROME were commonly used four decades ago. Men come back from war broken inside and people who don't understand this are also in need of psychological help.

          January 9, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
        • Sandman

          Very true. No one survives and returns the same as when they left.

          January 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danika

      David Shoup....

      Have you ever served in the Military ? I lost my husband to suicide several years after he left the battle field in Kuwait. If you have never been in... Don't make assumptions based on no knowledge!!!!

      January 9, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • kenny

      actually it makes perfect sense. EVERYONE went to war in WW2. EVERY MAN saw the same horrors that would break you. EVERYONE came back and talked to each other about it and that was as good as therapy. WHEN a soldier comes back today ALMOST NO ONE in the civilian world has shared their horror. THEY have NO ONE to talk to. THEY constantly think about it and eventually drive themselves nuts. WHEN YOU send a person to war, you send them to become a MURDERER... and be surrounded by people who want to MURDER YOU.... the first/any chance they get. if you don't came back efffd up... YOU are eith LUCKY or a PSYCHOPATH...

      January 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • pappakapp

      That's not true David. My grandfather may have lived until he was 87 but he was diagnosed with ptsd, plagued with night tremors, and grappled with suicidal thoughts all his life.

      January 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • db

      While certainly many of the WWII vets came back with these same issues (it was called "battle fatigue" or "shell shock" then), many of those men returned after deployment slowly. They had time to discuss their experiences with their fellow soldiers and process those experiences on the return trip. Our soldiers in our more recent past and today don't have the opportunity of a slower return to home life. Remember- the majority symptoms of PTSD are rational and expected when you are in war. The problem lies in when they won't go away post deployment.

      January 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously, people

      That attitude p*sses me off. One, PTSD is as old as war. That's fact, not opinion. Two, the guys who fought in WWII came back to a country that understood their sacrifice a little better. When they got out of the military and got civilian jobs... their coworkers were probably also veterans. If they went to college on the GI Bill... many of their classmates were probably veterans. Now, so few people serve in the military that someone who gets out and goes home might not know anyone else who shared his experiences in any meaningful way. Don't underestimate the benefits of camaraderie. I don't mean sitting around holding hands and talking about feelings; I mean the ability to sit with people and know they understand what you might be going through without anyone saying a word about it. If more Americans gave enough of a damn to serve in the military (as opposed to extolling the virtues of "the troops") PTSD and suicide would be less of an issue.

      January 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • SeeThruIt2

        My father was at Iwo Jima in WW2. It took until 1988 before he even started to talk about those experiences. And right after WW2, he had trouble find a job due to the huge number of GI's being discharged.

        I'm also a veteran.

        The main difference between soldiers of the 1910's, 1940's, and later wars is the way they were raised. Early discipline at home and in schools hardened our youth to endure a harsher life in the military. Today's American youth are mostly unprepared for the reality of military service. Some don't handle it well.

        January 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
        • Seriously, people

          I don't entirely disagree. I'm in the military, and see plenty of people who are not able to deal with routine aspects of military life, such as following orders and going on deployment. It's like it's this massive, insurmountable hardship for them to not have instant access to people back home (I think email and Skype have the potential to make deployments worse, not better, for instance). Whining about deployment is a different thing from experiencing combat, though, and like I said, PTSD is not a new phenomenon, and it's not due to a softer civilian (and therefore a softer military) culture. I've got zero sympathy for the people who volunteer to join the military and suddenly decide they can't handle being told what to do without ever deploying. I'm plenty more sympathetic towards people who did their time in the desert/mountains.

          January 9, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Really, comparing WWII to today is not a good way to go, during WWII studies have shown that 80-85 percent of riflemen did not EVER fire their weapons at an exposed or unseen enemy, and in previous wars the numbers were similar. Since Vietnam that number has been reversed due to the type of actions we have been involved in and the type of wars we are fighting, wars with no defined "rear area", now up to and above 95 percent of Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors are exposed to and have fired upon the enemy. This in its self takes a huge psychological toll on all involved.

      January 9, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • zane

        Mike- Care to cite your sources?

        January 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  21. palintwit

    It must be absolute hell to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and realize you're Sarah Palin. If it were me I'd travel to Mexico and pick a fight with one of the drug cartels.

    January 9, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  22. DeAndre Owens

    Convicting someone for committing suicide, that sounds all sorts of grimy, and everyone will turn there head because in this country we don't look down on our football players or soldiers. Give them a sense of entitlement like they can do no wrong, and look at this, plain as day, doing wrong, and No one has anything to say about it. This country is full of cowards, if someone tried to convict me for trying to kill myself I'd shoot them in the face, these people need help, not some piece of shit sociopathic military men breathing Down there necks, and yeah I do think only sociopaths become successful in the military. Either you don't see or do anything in the military, or something's loose in your head so you don't connect the dots of any senseless act you commit. The ones that do end up like this, and those people get punished, pretty pathetic if you ask me.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • charles B

      Listen the military does not do this to us. (the strong willed) I am in the military and i am currently deployed and have been for almost 5 months and have another 4 to go. i get stressed and everything but i leave it at work i don't bring it to my rack. whoever you know that would commit suicide after deploying are weak. i know that it is hard. but suck it up your in the military, you knew you were taking a risk when you signed on that line and rose that right hand and took the oath.

      January 10, 2013 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
      • Seriously, people

        First, thank you for your service. Not many people step up and take that risk. Yes, deployment is hard. Long days and separation from family aren't always fun, but that's not what people are talking about when they talk about PTSD. If you no kidding leave your work problems at work, congrats, you have an annoying job, but you aren't stressed. Finish a combat deployment, then think honestly about the effect on you and on the guys you deployed with after you've been back for a couple months.

        January 10, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • dog4dog

        some people get ptsd from killing others, having friends get killed, losing limbs, losing wives, losing a soldier under their command, many things can cause ptsd, i work with a guy who told me he killed two children and a mans wife in afghanistan, horrible things can happen to others so to say they are weak is wrong, my grandfather was one of two men from his company to survive the chinese 700,000 man assault during the korean war, he said they would hit them with floodlights and a bugle all of a sudden masses of chinese would charge in groups like one would picture from the civil war, he said they could not kill them quick enough nor were they prepared (general macarthur had them ready for the victory parade before it was even over), my father told me stories of his screams in his sleep growing up, i imagine the soldier who losses his leg or gets scarred on her face or loses his penis would have some really nasty ptsd but anyways thanks for your service, stay smart, safe and fight better than the enemy

        January 10, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • Army Wife

        @ Charles. First I would like to thank you for your service and congratulate you on being 'strong willed' and not weak. You appear to be an expert on how to leave your combat stress at work. In reading your response it sounds as if you are 5 months into your first deployment? In advance I would like to thank you for your service. I also think that it is attitudes such as yours, labeling people with PTSD 'weak'. I would be curious how many times that you have deployed, also what the lengths were, as well as your MOS. Your MOS has a lot to do with what kind of action you see and to which you are involved. The same as your rank, whether enlisted or an officer has a direct correlation to your level of responsibility. I wonder if you deployed to Iraq during the invasion, I wonder how many times you have had to pull the trigger or give an order in which you know resulted in the death of another? How many people are you responsible for, a squad, platoon, company, battalion? How many bodies of fellow soldiers have you carried as you think of their sacrifice, their families and their children? I would encourage you not to judge, but to have an open mind and support your fellow soldiers, sailors and airmen. There is nothing weak about having PTSD!!! How dare you call your fellow service members weak? I only hope that when you return from this deployment whether it is your first or your tenth that you do not have flashbacks; horrible dreams, survivors guilt or anything else that is more common than people will admit. I hope that you are not, how did you put it 'weak'? But that you are strong enough to seek help when needed and that your friends are supportive and not have the same close minded views as you. Thank you all for your service and sacrifice!

        January 10, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  23. TripleP

    Yeah... real innocent... coming from someone with 3 tours in Afghanistan, there are bad apples everywhere including Afghanistan where some people have no problem using those "innocent" civilians as shields to attack while a few of my comrades and I were helping to immunize a bunch of children from tetanus/diphtheria and other diseases. Go climb back under your rock or behind your "innocent" civilian.

    January 9, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Dale F. Hill

    Don't let any one get you down bro. There is a brotherhood out there. If you look, we are easy to find. Only your brothers know. It is pointless to argue with those that don't know.

    January 13, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
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