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Soldier Suicides: veterans are killing themselves in record numbers

March 27 2008 at 3:15 PM
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Response to Veterans recall horrors of war in live broadcast

Just highlighting how far reaching this tragedy is, and how it doesn't end upon returning to civilian life.

Soldier Suicides: veterans are killing themselves in record numbers

On February 19, 2004, Private Jonathan Schulze's life changed forever. The stone-faced, blue-eyed Marine got word he was going to war in Iraq, an environment completely different from his previous cozy posts in Okinawa, Japan, and California.

Two months later, Schulze found himself in the midst of a bloody, two-day firefight in Ramadi. He watched a rocket-propelled grenade decapitate his best friend. There was no time to grieve, he told his family; he had to "bag and tag" bodies with the dead man's brains still smeared across his shirt. There were 16 U.S. fatalities that day.

Seven months later, after receiving a general discharge from the Marine Corps, Schulze returned to the family farm near Stewart, Minnesota, where he grew up. Although unusually quiet, his life seemed back on track; he worked construction with his father and fawned over his daughter, Kaley Marie.

In May 2005, Schulze suffered an on-the-job injury and turned to the Minneapolis Veterans Administration for treatment. For reasons unknown, his body was resisting antibiotics and he was continually developing infections.

But that wasn't all that was wrong. Jonathan told doctors that several times a day he experienced panic attacks. His heart would race, his chest would hurt, and he'd feel like he was being choked. He couldn't sleep at night and had developed a violent temper. One psychiatrist noted that Schulze said his "life was falling apart."

Jonathan was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a serious mental condition that can result in nightmares, panic attacks, and hypervigilance.

By January of 2007, Schulze's binge drinking and violent outbursts had hurt his relationships with family and friends. He'd been convicted of driving drunk and was asked to leave an apartment he was renting.

Schulze hit bottom and realized that no amount of booze and anti-anxiety drugs would make the pains of the war fade. He inquired about residential PTSD programming at the Minneapolis VA and was told he had to wait until March.

So Schulze traveled with his father 75 miles to the St. Cloud VA. They had heard about its residential treatment program for PTSD and hoped Jonathan would be admitted on the spot.

At the hospital, Schulze told an intake nurse that he was suffering from severe PTSD and that he was suicidal, his parents say—a claim the VA denies. He was told to go home and wait for a phone call; the social worker who was supposed to conduct screenings was busy with another matter.

The next day, Schulze was told that he had been admitted, but he shouldn't pack his bags just yet: He was 26th on the waiting list.

"He got off the phone and he looked at me and his face just fell," says his stepmother, Marianne.

Four days later, police found the 25-year-old motionless in a sitting position, semi-suspended from a blue electrical cord tied to a cross beam in his friend's basement. He had hung himself.

See link for pics and whole article:

Soldier Suicides: veterans are killing themselves in record numbers

This message has been edited by Oscar50 on Mar 27, 2008 3:18 PM

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