SOLDIER “MAY HAVE GONE BERSERK” IN AFGHAN SHOOTING

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1. SOLDIER “MAY HAVE GONE BERSERK” IN AFGHAN SHOOTING

Posted by: “Ann Blake-Tracy”

Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:39 pm (PDT)

SOLDIER “MAY HAVE GONE BERSERK” IN AFGHAN SHOOTING:

Okay things are beginning to come out about this case … SO LET’S LOOK AT THEM….

#1 Very significant is that two years ago this soldier suffered Traumatic Brain Injury. Anyone who has had a brain injury should NEVER be given an antidepressant according to neurologist, Dr. Jay Seastrunk. The brain is far more vulnerable to seizure activity after such an injury and taking a stimulant (An ANTI-depressant or the opposite of a depressant IS A STIMULANT!). Remember that a manic psychosis is a continuous series of seizures in the brain which is basically what REM Sleep is also. (Keep that in mind as you read below about REM sleep.)

#2 In this article Dr. Johnathan Shay describes what he calls Berserk: “Berserkers … have this curious quality of icy and flaming rage; all they want to do is destroy, they want nothing to get in the way of their unmediated destruction and killing, and they are truly insensitive to pain. They are totally beyond the society of their own military forces and disconnected from them.”

“It’s a painful and destructive thing and usually fatal for the soldier… The term “berserk” is an Old Norse word describing the frenzied trance in which some warriors fought.”

Now what he has just described as “berserkness” is what is a perfect description of “homicidal ideation” – a compulsion to kill – continuous thoughts of killing and continuous thoughts of methods of killing – coupled with rage. Both rage & homicidal ideation are listed side effects of antidepressants which are prescribed at a shocking rate to our military! The main drug anyone would think of producing this type of reaction is PCP (Angel Dust) & antidepressants are the most similar drugs in action to PCP the world has ever seen!!

#3 Another quote from this article states: “And sleep is unmistakably the fuel for the frontal lobes of the brain, and when you’re out of gas in the frontal lobe you become a moral moron — a catastrophe with no moral restraint.” Combat stress, or PTSD in its most virulent form, tends to disrupt sleep.”

PTSD in its most virulent form does disrupt sleep but what disrupts sleep even more is antidepressants. One of the first things noted about the first SSRI antidepressant on the market, Prozac, was how it repressed REM Sleep. Now for those of you who have read my book, Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare, know after reading the chapter on the REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) that antidepressants cause this disorder where you act out nightmares. More recent research demonstrates that 86% of those being diagnosed with RBD are currently taking an antidepressant even though it has mainly been known as a drug withdrawal state. So those in withdrawal have an even greater chance of going into this sleepwalk nightmare we call RBD!

Close friends of mine had a son leave for Iraq a couple of years ago. The young man called his father, a social worker, to ask about taking an antidepressant. Why? Because he was told by Army personnel that he would need one in order to go to Iraq! Knowing a little about my work after learning a close friend of his was stabbed, along with his mother & sister, by their father, who then shot himself after only five days on Zoloft, he was concerned about antidepressants. A veteran himself, his father’s response was level headed. He told his son that if he ever needed to have his thoughts together & control over his actions & NOT be under the influence of a mind altering drug it would be while carrying a gun & facing what he would in Iraq.

Now what was most alarming to me was that so much pressure had been put on this young man by his superiors to take these drugs that even after all he had witnessed in his own personal life they had pushed him to the point that he would even feel like he needed to ask his father this question!!! Clearly our troops are being pressured into taking these drugs & have been drugged out of their minds for many years now – even to the point of this is the first war in which we are losing more troops to suicide than combat!!

I urge you to share this information with local reporters & everyone you know as a warning of the most deadly aspects of these drugs we mistakenly call “antidepressants”! Send them to read my FDA presentations how how these drugs can produce such violence at www.drugawareness.org (located just under the picture of my book on the right side) & to our database of cases like this one at www.ssristories.drugawareness.org so they can see the evidence that does exist & is presented in courtrooms in these cases. None of this should remain hidden from the public because this is a public safety issue!!!

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition for Drug Awareness
www.drugawareness.org & www.ssristories.drugawareness.org
Author: “Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare –
The Complete Truth of the Full Impact of Antidepressants Upon
Us & Our World” & CD on Safe Withdrawal “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!”

 

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PROZAC: Soldier Stabs to death Two Fellow Soldiers: Iraq/New York

Paragraphs 5 through 8 read:  “Investigators found the
23-year old’s body and along with the body of 20-year old Waide James of Port
St. John in Brevard County in their apartment just outside Ft. Drum in New York.
The two failed to report for duty on base.

Police say the Army Specialists had been stabbed to death.

New York

authorities tracked their other roommate, military police officer Joshua
Hunter,
to Ohio.

“Hunter, 20, was expected to be arraigned on
second-degree murder charges Friday morning, three days after the bodies
of James and Valbuena were found in their apartment just outside Fort Drum,
a
bout 140 miles northwest of Albany. Hunter and the two victims served
in Iraq at the same time in the same battalion.”

Paragraph 11
reads:  “‘He was a gunner and he was active,’  says his father, Jim
Hunter.  ‘He said he saw some things he couldn’t get out of his mind. I
know he was seeing a therapist and taking

Prozac.”

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2009/dec/04/slain-port-st-lucie-soldier-recalled-loving-person/

Slain Port St. Lucie soldier recalled as ‘loving person’ who put others
first

  • BY CAROLYN SCOFIELD WPTV NewsChannel 5
  • Posted December 4, 2009 at 6:18 a.m.

PORT ST. LUCIE ­ Nicole
Aviles will always remember his smile.

Diego Valbuena, a 2006 St. Lucie
West Centennial graduate, had a big grin and knew how to make his younger cousin
laugh.

“He was like the life of the party,” says Nicole Aviles. “He
always had a big grin on his face.”

There’s not a lot of laughter in the
family right now as they prepare for the funeral of the Port St. Lucie
resident.

Investigators found the 23-year old’s body and along with the
body of 20-year old Waide James of Port St. John in Brevard County in their
apartment just outside Ft. Drum in New York. The two failed to report for duty
on base.

Police say the Army Specialists had been stabbed to

death.

New York authorities tracked their other roommate, military police
officer Joshua Hunter, to Ohio.

Hunter, 20, was expected to be arraigned
on second-degree murder charges Friday morning, three days after the bodies of
James and Valbuena were found in their apartment just outside Fort Drum, about
140 miles northwest of Albany. Hunter and the two victims served in Iraq at the
same time in the same battalion.

They all were based at the wind-swept
Army post near the Canadian border, home of the much-deployed 10th Mountain
Division, and shared an off-base apartment.

Investigators have not
released a motive, but Hunter’s family says he served 15 months in Iraq and came
back scarred.

Relatives of Hunter said Thursday that he told them he saw
his best friend “blown to pieces” in Iraq and came back a changed man: abusive,
violent, sleepless, edgy and plagued by flashbacks.

“He was a gunner and
he was active,” says his father, Jim Hunter. “He said he saw some things he
couldn’t get out of his mind. I know he was seeing a therapist and taking

Prozac.”

Hunter’s wife, Emily Hunter, told The Associated Press in a
phone interview that her husband was outgoing before he went to war, but when he
returned stateside, he was an emotional wreck.

“He’d just burst into
tears; spouts of anger or sadness,” she said. “There’d be one emotion but it
would be really deep, just extremely happy or extremely sad. His emotions were
always on the rocks.”

“He’d take his rage out on the wall, or throw
something,” she said.

While he wasn’t violent toward his buddies, he was
toward her, she said, adding that she went to the hospital a couple of times for
treatment of an injured arm and thumb.

She said she moved out two weeks
ago because of his violence and is pursuing a divorce.

Valbuena also
served 15 months in Iraq. His family says he loved his country and excelled in
the Army.

He earned the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal
and Iraq Campaign Medal among other awards.

More important than the
medals was his love of family.

“A guy like him is like, one in a trillion
basically,” says Aviles. “He was just such a loving person, like he always put
others in front of himself.”

Sergio Valbuena said his brother was a good
man.

“He’s a pretty good boy, a pretty good kid,” he said. “He was loved
by everybody. He was a very good brother, a very good son.

“He was always
a problem-solver. He loved this country. That’s the reason he joined the
military.”

In September, James and Valbuena graduated from Fort Drum’s
Warrior Leaders Course, which teaches skills required to lead, train, fight and
accomplish the mission as noncommissioned officers. The two and Hunter all
listed each other as friends on their MySpace pages.

Valbuena wrote on
his MySpace page that he was born in Bogota, Colombia, and had joined the
military in August 2008.

James and Valbuena served as motor transport
operators with the Headquarters Battalion of the 10th Mountain Division,
according to Fort Drum’s public affairs office.

James arrived at Fort
Drum in July 2007, while Valbuena joined in August 2007 and came to Fort Drum in
January. Both have received awards and decorations including the Army
Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq

Campaign Medal and overseas service ribbon.

James’ grandparents, who live
in Port St. John, described him as an avid outdoorsman who loved
fishing.

James lived in Brevard County for three years before joining the
Army in March 2007. He arrived in Fort Drum in July of that year.

“He
returned from his first tour of Iraq about seven months ago,” said his
grandfather, Chuck Mills. “If he could go fishing every hour of the day, he
would. He loved four-wheeling, being out in the mud.”

Valbuena’s family
is making arrangements to hold his funeral in Port St. Lucie.

Staff
writer Eric Pfahler, Kaustuv Basu of Florida Today and The Associated Press
contributed to this report.

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ANTIDEPRESSANTS & PAIN MEDS: Soldier’s Family Claim He is Being Overmedicated

Paragraphs 8 through 10 read:  “About two and a half
weeks ago, Chas was not quite the same on the phone,” says Chip.
He was irritable and confused, and could barely stay
awake
.”

“Then one recent morning staff from Walter Reed had to
bang on Chas’s door just to wake him. Chip says chas is in such a groggy state
now he could not even get on his segway.”

“Chip began to investigate and
discovered doctors changed Chas’s medication, despite chip’s specific orders not
to. He is convinced his son is being prescribed too
many painkillers and anti-depressants.”

http://www.fox2now.com/news/ktvi-walter-reed-chas-shafer-111109,0,55246.story

Illinois Soldier’s Family Worries About His Safety at Walter Reed
Hospital

By Teresa Woodard FOX2now.com

November 11,
2009

Related links

O’FALLON, IL (KTVI-FOX2now.com) – The
family of an O’Fallon, Illinois soldier who lost his leg in Iraq is asking
serious questions about treatment at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington,
DC. There’s been an unexpected setback in Specialist Chas Shaffer’s recovery.
Fourteen months after the incident, his father says he has regressed, and he

blames the medication he‘s being prescribed by army doctors.

Chip Shaffer
marched in the Veterans’ Day Parade in O’Fallon Wednesday afternoon, all the
while wondering how his son was feeling in Washington, D.C.

“It seems
like I keep failing. And as the father of a wounded warrior, I don’t like
failing,” he says.

Shaffer is a veteran and the son of a World War Two
veteran, and the father of a soldier.

“I am trying to protect that third
generation,” says Shaffer.

Chip’s only son, Chas lost his right leg in
Iraq on September 1, 2008. After months of intense physical and emotional
therapy, Chas seemed unstoppable on a visit home in July. He was easily getting
around on a prosthetic leg, and speeding up and down his father’s street on a
segway.

But now, Chip says, there has been a setback.

“About two
and a half weeks ago, Chas was not quite the same on the phone,” says Chip. He

was irritable and confused, and could barely stay awake.

Then one recent
morning staff from Walter Reed had to bang on Chas’s door just to wake him. Chip
says chas is in such a groggy state now he could not even get on his
segway.

Chip began to investigate and discovered doctors changed Chas’s
medication, despite chip’s specific orders not to. He is convinced his son is
being prescribed too many painkillers and anti-depressants.

A long string
of unclassified army emails shows the Shaffers began complaining about possible
overmedication in February. Chas brought it up in what he believed would be a
private and confidential meeting between amputees at Walter Reed and a senator,
but his name was released and his superiors ridiculed him for what they called
an”offhand comment” said because, “he had an audience, and he used
it.”

The emails were followed by face to face contact where Chas was told
to remember the chain of command.

“In essence he was told never tell a
senator, never tell anyone else anything. This is personal opinions did not
count,” says Chip.

The army has now stripped Chip of his power to make
medical decisions on his son’s behalf. He is deeply worried about Chas and all
patients at Walter Reed.

“These kids need a lot of help. If we can’t fix
it, where are we as a country?” he asks. “If they want a fight, I have no
problem taking a fight to ’em.”

The senator Chas met with is Illinois
Sen. Dick Durbin. He was at the same Veterans’ Day Parade in O’Fallon as Chip.

He promises he cares about Chas too.

“We’ve been in touch with Mr.
Shaffer a number of times, and we’re working with him,” he told Fox 2. “He has
legitimate concerns and we’re going to make sure his son receives the best care.
It wasn’t that long ago that there were some really terrible stories coming out
of Walter Reed. I think things are better, but we’ve got to judge this on a case
by case basis and make sure his son is getting the very best treatment he

deserves.”

Chip was glad to hear the senator’s comments.

“I’m
going to place my confidence in Sen. Durbin. However, he fails, he‘s failing all
our military,” he says.

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ANTIDEPRESSANT: Suicide: Soldier: Iraq/Kentucky

Paragraph 16 reads:  “Depression first struck in the
summer of 2002, and Ala admitted himself to Ten Broeck Hospital, now called The
Brook. He was prescribed an anti-depressant, his parents
said, and later in the year saw a doctor at Fort Knox who determined he was fit
to stay in the Guard. He was deployed the next year to the Middle
East.”

Paragraphs 20 through 23 read:  “But in 2004, they began to
notice troubling signs. Arylane Ala said her son always wore black and went on
binges with vitamins, nutritional supplements and workouts. Sometimes he
would hide, saying he heard helicopters.
And he would get
extremely agitated while driving, occasionally slamming his car
into park, and running away, disappearing for hours or even
days.

In June 2005, Ala was hospitalized at the Louisville
VA Medical Center and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which the
VA later ruled service-connected, which made him eligible for financial
benefits.

He was prescribed lithium, but his parents said he sometimes
skipped his medication. At nursing school, he highlighted passages about bipolar
disorder in his psychiatry textbook, writing “me” in the
margins.

Finally, after a fight with his fiancee that resulted in her
obtaining an emergency protective order against him, Bryan Ala went to his
parents’ home. The Alas said he promised not to do anything rash. But after they went to work on Aug. 10, 2007, he took a rifle from
under his father’s bed and ended his life.

SSRI Stories note:

Antidepressants Can Cause Bipolar Disorder to Develop.  This is
stated in many scientific studies.  Bipolar Disorder Can Contribute to
Suicide.

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20090913/NEWS01/909130330

Suicide takes growing toll among military, veterans

By Laura Ungar • lungar@courier-journal.com
September 13, 2009

As soon as Arylane Ala walked into her house that day
in 2007, she saw blood ­ a red pool stretching from the coffee table to the
fireplace. Then she saw her youngest son face down on the floor, an antique
rifle by his side.

She didn’t approach his body, she said: “I didn’t
want to see his face … his expression.”

Four tumultuous years after
serving in the Middle East with the Kentucky Air National Guard, 25-year-old
Bryan Ala of Louisville took his life ­ part of a rising number of military
and veteran suicides as the Iraq war continues and fighting intensifies in
Afghanistan.

“Life goes on after you lose a child,” said Bryan’s father,
Rich, 60. “But sweet is never as sweet as it was. The sun’s never as bright.
I’ve got a hole in my heart that will never heal up.”

The federal
government estimates that 5,000 veterans commit suicide each year, and Dr.
Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said suicides
among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans could top combat deaths.

He made the
statement last year at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric
Association and cited a study by Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization,
showing as many as 20 percent of veterans returning from these conflicts will
suffer major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, and seven in 10 won’t
seek help from the departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs.

The toll
is also rising in the active military, with the Army reporting the most
confirmed suicides ­ 140 last year. Locally, Fort Knox reported five
confirmed suicides in 2008 and 2009. Fort Campbell reported 24 suspected or
confirmed suicides in the same period and in late May suspended regular duties
for everyone for three days so commanders could better help soldiers at
risk.

Driving these numbers are pre-existing mental illnesses,
post-traumatic stress disorder and relationship or financial problems worsened
by long or repeated deployments, say mental health experts, who also point to
the stigma against seeking help in a culture known for toughness.

Many
families and veterans organizations argue that more needs to be done to stop the
deaths. And military and Veterans Affairs officials say they are taking the
problem seriously, beefing up mental health resources and suicide prevention
programs.

“We’ve got to hit it head on,” said Maj. Gen. Donald Campbell,
Fort Knox commander.

In July, Fort Knox played host to Maj. Gen. Mark
Graham of Georgia and his wife, Carol, who told a standing-room-only crowd about
the 2003 suicide of their son Kevin, 21.

The ROTC cadet at the University
of Kentucky suffered from depression before his sister found him hanged from a
bedroom ceiling fan. The Grahams, who have made military suicide prevention a
personal cause, shared Kevin’s story before attending a ceremony dedicating a
building to their other son, Jeffrey, who was killed in action in Iraq in
2004.

“We lost two sons,” said Mark Graham, who spoke again on Aug. 21 in
Frankfort. “Both our sons died fighting different
battles.”

History of mental illness

Mental illness also proved
too strong an enemy for Bryan Ala.

Growing up, he was adventurous and
loved caving, rock-climbing, fishing and going to the shooting range with his
father, a Vietnam vet. At 18, Bryan Ala joined the Air National Guard to help
pay for college, later enrolling in the University of Louisville’s nursing
school.

Depression first struck in the summer of 2002, and Ala admitted
himself to Ten Broeck Hospital, now called The Brook. He was prescribed an
anti-depressant, his parents said, and later in the year saw a doctor at Fort
Knox who determined he was fit to stay in the Guard. He was deployed the next
year to the Middle East.

Capt. Stephanie Fields, deputy state surgeon for
the Kentucky National Guard, said soldiers are not deployed if they have been
diagnosed with depression less than three months earlier because the soldier
needs to show stability. But otherwise, she said, decisions are made on a
case-by-case basis, according to Army policy, by a treating physician who
consults with the soldier‘s commander. If they are deemed too ill to deploy, she
said, they may still be able to stay in the Guard. Fields said soldiers have two
mental health evaluations before deployment.

Rich Ala said he worried
that serving abroad might aggravate his son’s depression, but didn’t say
anything because he figured his son was an adult who could take care of himself.

Bryan Ala spent six months as a medic in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab
Emirates and Qatar, where his job was to care for an air crew and help at a
military field hospital. He didn’t talk much with his family about what he saw
during his tour, beyond the different cultures and the harsh conditions of a
desert tent encampment.

Back in the United States, he served another six
months as a medic with a hospital group at the Kentucky Air National Guard base
in Louisville, and his parents said everything seemed fine.

But in 2004,
they began to notice troubling signs. Arylane Ala said her son always wore black
and went on binges with vitamins, nutritional supplements and workouts.
Sometimes he would hide, saying he heard helicopters. And he would get extremely
agitated while driving, occasionally slamming his car into park, and running
away, disappearing for hours or even days.

In June 2005, Ala was
hospitalized at the Louisville VA Medical Center and diagnosed with bipolar
disorder, which the VA later ruled service-connected, which made him eligible
for financial benefits.

He was prescribed lithium, but his parents said
he sometimes skipped his medication. At nursing school, he highlighted passages
about bipolar disorder in his psychiatry textbook, writing “me” in the
margins.

Finally, after a fight with his fiancee that resulted in her
obtaining an emergency protective order against him, Bryan Ala went to his
parents’ home. The Alas said he promised not to do anything rash. But after they
went to work on Aug. 10, 2007, he took a rifle from under his father’s bed and
ended his life.

Combat haunts vet

Psychologist Lanny Berman,
executive director of the American Association of Suicidology in Washington,
D.C., said the military generally does a good job screening out people with
severe mental conditions.

But he said many soldiers suffer pre-existing
depression or develop mental illness during or after service ­ magnifying
everyday stresses and compromising already disrupted relationships.
(4 of 4)

Berman, who serves on a federal task force to prevent military suicides,
said the Iraq and Afghanistan wars pose the particular challenges of long tours
and close-range combat, and many veterans suffer post-traumatic stress
disorder.
Advertisement

Army Sgt. Cecil Harris of Pikeville, Ky., was one of them.
After serving in Iraq in 2003, he was flown to Germany with respiratory
problems, severe headaches and a bacterial illness, said his mother, Sharon
Harris of Louisville.

But long after the physical healing began, she
said, his combat memories haunted him, and he was diagnosed with PTSD at the
Lexington VA hospital.

In May of this year, in the midst of a divorce, he
called his mother in Las Vegas, where she was working as a traveling nurse. He
talked about difficulties with a new medication.

On May 17, Harris, 33,
was found hanged from a beam of an apartment under construction in
Danville.

His mother recalled his last words to her:

“Promise me,
Mom, if something happens to me, that you’ll be my voice to the boys who come
back so they get better medical treatment.”

Care gets beefed up

Military and VA officials said
they are trying to do just that.

Nationally, the VA has suicide
prevention coordinators in each of its hospitals and in 2007 started a suicide
hot line for veterans that has received more than 120,000 calls. The Louisville
VA Medical Center provides mental health care and outpatient group sessions for
once-suicidal veterans.

Joe Verney, suicide prevention program manager at
Fort Campbell, said his was the first Army installation in the continental
United States to create a council of leaders from medicine, religion, behavioral
health and other disciplines, in 2007, and to hire a suicide prevention
coordinator, in 2008.

The base also contracts with 29 behavioral health
professionals available for round-the-clock, anonymous consultations, and trains
soldiers in a suicide-prevention program called “Ask, Care, Escort,” which
stresses accompanying others to help.

Fort Knox officials said they are
taking similar steps, trying to eliminate the stigma against seeking
help.

“Our Army is clearly moving in the right direction,” said Mark
Graham, who used to command Colorado’s Fort Carson. “But it’s not moving fast
enough.”

The changes come too late for the Alas, who argue that mental
health needs to be treated like physical health, with the ill getting intensive
treatment.

Arylane Ala said problems with mental health care in the
military and VA reflect problems in the larger civilian culture. “Mental health
in general … should be more readily available,” she said. “People should be
treated more frequently. Having a (psychologist) to speak with every three
months is not enough when the illness is serious.”

Two years after their
son’s death, she and her husband often visit his ashes at a cemetery near Fort
Knox, placing plastic toy soldiers nearby to symbolize his service.

“You
hope nobody goes through the loss of a child,” said Arylane Ala, her eyes
filling with tears. “Life’s not meant to be that way.”

Reporter Laura
Ungar can be reached at (502) 582-7190.

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ANTIDEPRESSANT: Suicide: Soldier: Iraq/Virginia

Paragraph 11 reads:  “Starr attempted suicide last
summer. Medication and counseling followed. He returned to work a month later.”

Paragraph 16
reads: “Scott had shot himself hours earlier, at home in Virginia Beach.
He died within a few miles of base – yet word of his death came
to Greene from someone thousands of miles away.”

http://hamptonroads.com/2009/09/walk-brings-light-dark-subject-suicide-military

Walk brings light to dark subject of suicide in the
military

Posted to: Military

The Virginian-Pilot
© September 11, 2009

Jon Greene
knows  he might choke up when he reads aloud a certain name Saturday at
Mount Trashmore.

He lost Scott Alan Starr, a friend and colleague, to
suicide in August 2008. Greene was the commander of the Naval Surface Warfare
Center at Dam Neck; Starr worked closely with him.

Greene and other
volunteers will read the names of more than 100 people who took their own lives
in the past year as part of the Out of the Darkness Community Walk.

The
walk, in its fourth year, brings together scores of people – more than 900 have
registered so far – and is one of the largest of its kind in the United States.
It’s sponsored by the Hampton Roads Survivors of Suicide Support
Group.

Some walk in memory of a friend or loved one. Others come because
they know what it’s like to suffer from depression.

“I can’t save Scott,
but I think there are lots and lots of folks in the military with lots and lots
to offer the world… who don’t realize that depression can be treated,” Greene
said.

Diagnosable depression is a factor in 90 percent of all suicides,
according to Chris Gilchrist, a Chesapeake social worker and one of the event’s
organizers.

Starr was the model Navy chief petty officer, Greene said:
strong, intelligent, well-respected, caring. A father figure to hundreds of
young sailors.

He first worked for Greene as senior enlisted adviser at
the surface warfare center. After retiring in 2007, Starr returned to Dam Neck
as a civilian employee.

“He was very proud,” Greene said. “And very
private.”

Starr attempted suicide last summer. Medication and counseling
followed. He returned to work a month later.

When Greene checked on him,
Starr’s response was always the same: “I’m doing great,” he would
say.

“He was the master chief. He was in charge; he was in control. There
were no cracks in his facade,” Greene said.

Greene set up automatic
reminders on his computer so he wouldn’t forget to check in with Starr. One of
them popped up on Aug. 17. But the day got busy, and Greene didn’t get to
it.

In his office early the next morning, Greene’s phone rang. It was a
friend of Starr’s calling from Iraq.

Scott had shot himself hours
earlier, at home in Virginia Beach. He died within a few miles of base – yet
word of his death came to Greene from someone thousands of miles away.

“I
really didn’t believe it,” Greene said in a recent interview, pausing and
looking up at the ceiling, trying to remember the moment. “It was absolutely
surreal.”

After getting the news, Greene shifted into “commanding officer
mode.” There were arrangements to deal with, colleagues to tell, a memorial
service to plan. The rituals helped. But Greene was unsettled. He couldn’t help
feeling that the military standard of suffering without complaint might have
doomed his friend.

Gilchrist and Greene’s wife, also a social worker,
helped him understand that suicide is a medical matter, not a moral
one.

Gilchrist noted that suicide is a major medical issue – 32,000
people take their own lives annually, she said. It is the 11th leading cause of
the death in the United States.

After years of war, the military has
gotten better at teaching service members about post-traumatic stress disorder
and mental health.

Generals and admirals talk about the spike in suicides
and are trying to address it. Earlier this year, the Army ordered a massive
safety stand-down to reach out to soldiers. The Navy has its own program for
spreading the message that it’s OK to ask for help.

But Greene, who’s now
retired from the Navy, knows that rank-and-file sailors don’t always buy the
message mouthed by military brass at the Pentagon.

“There are a lot of
good things going on in the military. I think there’s a willingness to do
something,” Greene said. “But fundamentally, it comes to the
culture.”

And that culture is action-oriented, goal-driven and full of
people who think “I’ll just power through this. I can hack it,” he
said.

“There are a lot of folks in the military – including some
relatively senior folks – who still see suicide and depression as a shameful
choice. I think there needs to be recognition by a lot of folks, specifically
the leadership, that you can’t hack it. Sometimes you need a little
help.”

Starr expected himself to be perfect. “He felt he had to live at
this ideal, this standard he’d set for himself,” Greene said.

That’s part
of the reason Greene invited Gilchrist to talk about suicide with leaders at the
surface warfare center. And it’s part of the reason he put up a large sign on
base, publicizing Saturday’s walk.

“There are so many people worried
about the damage that will be done to their career if they get help from
military medicine,” Greene said.

He acknowledged that there are
obstacles, but even within the military’s constraints, there are resources, like
special hot lines for service members and their families where they can get
immediate help.

“People in the military are put in extremely stressful
and dangerous positions,” he said. “That’s not going to change, and we don’t
want it to change. It’s the responsibility of leadership to listen and beware
when their sailors are having trouble.”

Kate Wiltrout, (757) 446-2629,

kate.wiltrout@pilotonline.com

596 total views, 1 views today

PROZAC: Soldier Stabs to Death Two Fellow Soldiers: New York

NOTE FROM Ann Blake-Tracy: Early this year we
learned that we are losing as many soldiers to suicide as we are in combat. But
before long we are going to find that we are losing far more soldiers at the
hand of their fellow soldiers than we are in combat. The numbers of cases at
this point are staggering!

Paragraph four reads:  “They also spoke of the little
they knew of their relationship with Spc. Joshua S. Hunter, 20,
Ona, W.Va., the
fellow soldier now accused
of their gruesome double murder.”

Paragraph fourteen
reads:  “Mr. Mills said soldiers who knew his nephew told him that

Spc. Hunter had been on antidepressant medication
and that his mental state had deteriorated noticeably over the past few
weeks.”

http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20091204/NEWS03/312049939

Victims’ families grappling with ‘nightmare’

By JOANNA RICHARDS
TIMES STAFF
WRITER
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2009

“It’s a nightmare,” she said. “I wish
it was a nightmare.”

Natalia Valbuena, 15, little sister of Spc. Diego A.
Valbuena, 23, one of the two Fort Drum soldiers found dead of stab wounds
Tuesday in their Evans Mills apartment, spoke Thursday by phone from her home in
Port St. Lucie, Fla. Her parents, Fernando and Guerty Valbuena, were too
distraught to speak to the press about the loss of their son, the second of four
children.

Family members of Spc. Valbuena and Spc. Waide T. James, 20,
Port St. John, Fla., spoke Thursday about the young men: their commitment to the
military, their friendship, their hopes for the future.

They also spoke
of the little they knew of their relationship with Spc. Joshua S. Hunter, 20,
Ona, W.Va., the fellow soldier now accused of their gruesome double murder.

All three men returned in the spring from a 15-month tour in Iraq with
the 10th Mountain Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. Spc.
Valbuena and Spc. James remained in that unit, where they were motor transport
operators, according to Fort Drum spokesman Maj. Frederick C. Harrell. Spc.
Hunter had since been assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s rear detachment,
meaning he remained at Fort Drum while the brigade completed a yearlong
deployment in Afghanistan.

The 3rd Brigade’s approximately 3,500 soldiers
are in the process of returning home from a deployment that left 24 dead and
about 300 wounded from combat-related incidents. Fort Drum medical officials
said this week that they had requested and will receive 15 new mental health
care providers to add to an existing staff of 54 to help meet the needs of those
veterans.

But Spc. Hunter’s family members told the Associated Press on
Thursday that it was the Iraq warthat had changed him.

“He saw his best
friend get blown up to pieces and he tried to put him back together,” said Emily
Hunter, Spc. Hunter’s wife, in a phone interview. “He was never right after
that.”

Speaking with a reporter at her home, Judy Hunter said her son, a
military police officer, was not the same after returning from the war. He had
trouble sleeping and would stay up for days on end. He sometimes suffered
flashbacks. Though her son never talked to her about his experiences, he did
confide in his father about “the trauma he went through,” she said.

“In
my heart of hearts, I think he snapped,” Ms. Hunter said.

Spc. Hunter’s
MySpace page was disabled Thursday, but the Associated Press reported disturbing
comments posted there while it was still up: “I am angry at the world and I will
take it out on anyone,” the soldier wrote.

Michael D. Mills, Spc. James’s
uncle, said by phone Thursday that he’d heard from other soldiers that Spc.
Hunter had been staying at Spc. Valbuena and Spc. James’s Evans Mills apartment
because of problems in his marriage.

“Josh wasn’t moved in or anything,”
Mr. Mills said. “I think what was happening was Josh was having issues with his
wife and they were in the process of getting separated, and he was staying over
there for a few nights.”

Mr. Mills said soldiers who knew his nephew told
him that Spc. Hunter had been on antidepressant medication and that his mental
state had deteriorated noticeably over the past few weeks.

Mr. Mills
spoke from the Port St. John home of Karen and Charles Mills, Spc. James’s
grandparents. Spc. James lived with the Millses for three years before he joined
the Army, in March 2007. The soldier‘s uncle described him as an enthusiastic
outdoorsman. Karen Mills said her grandson loved playing with his four young
cousins, ages 6 through 11.

“They worship the ground that he walked on,”
she said. “Whenever he was here, he became one of them. If they were rolling
around on the floor, they were all rolling around on the floor … But he looked
after them. He loved them, and they loved him terribly and that’s one of the
tough things we’re dealing with now.”

Sergio Valbuena, 31, described Spc.
Valbuena, his younger brother, as “driven.” Born in Colombia, he came to the
United States in 2001 and joined the Army in August 2007 because “he felt it was
his duty to give back. … We are all proud of this country, of the
opportunities we have received,” he said.

“We were very proud of him, but
we were trying to get him not to re-enlist,” he said.

The family was
worried for his safety.

Natalia Valbuena said her brother Diego had
encouraged her to do well in school and in life, and that made her all the more
determined to persevere through his death.

She said Diego was in the
midst of a divorce from his wife, Catherine, also a soldier at Fort Drum. The

two had joined up together, and remained close friends even though the marriage
hadn’t worked out.

Catherine Valbuena was planning to return to Florida
today, Natalia said.

Spc. James’s family said he would be buried in
Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, near Orlando. Neither family knew when
the bodies of the soldiers were due home

________________________________
Paragraphs 5 through 8 read:  “Investigators found the
23-year old’s body and along with the body of 20-year old Waide James of Port
St. John in Brevard County in their apartment just outside Ft. Drum in New York.
The two failed to report for duty on base.

Police say the Army Specialists had been stabbed to death.

New York

authorities tracked their other roommate, military police officer Joshua
Hunter,
to Ohio.

“Hunter, 20, was expected to be arraigned on
second-degree murder charges Friday morning, three days after the bodies
of James and Valbuena were found in their apartment just outside Fort Drum,
a
bout 140 miles northwest of Albany. Hunter and the two victims served
in Iraq at the same time in the same battalion.”

Paragraph 11
reads:  “‘He was a gunner and he was active,’  says his father, Jim
Hunter.  ‘He said he saw some things he couldn’t get out of his mind. I
know he was seeing a therapist and taking

Prozac.”

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2009/dec/04/slain-port-st-lucie-soldier-recalled-loving-person/

Slain Port St. Lucie soldier recalled as ‘loving person’ who put others
first

  • BY CAROLYN SCOFIELD WPTV NewsChannel 5
  • Posted December 4, 2009 at 6:18 a.m.

PORT ST. LUCIE ­ Nicole
Aviles will always remember his smile.

Diego Valbuena, a 2006 St. Lucie
West Centennial graduate, had a big grin and knew how to make his younger cousin
laugh.

“He was like the life of the party,” says Nicole Aviles. “He
always had a big grin on his face.”

There’s not a lot of laughter in the
family right now as they prepare for the funeral of the Port St. Lucie
resident.

Investigators found the 23-year old’s body and along with the
body of 20-year old Waide James of Port St. John in Brevard County in their
apartment just outside Ft. Drum in New York. The two failed to report for duty
on base.

Police say the Army Specialists had been stabbed to

death.

New York authorities tracked their other roommate, military police
officer Joshua Hunter, to Ohio.

Hunter, 20, was expected to be arraigned
on second-degree murder charges Friday morning, three days after the bodies of
James and Valbuena were found in their apartment just outside Fort Drum, about
140 miles northwest of Albany. Hunter and the two victims served in Iraq at the
same time in the same battalion.

They all were based at the wind-swept
Army post near the Canadian border, home of the much-deployed 10th Mountain
Division, and shared an off-base apartment.

Investigators have not
released a motive, but Hunter’s family says he served 15 months in Iraq and came
back scarred.

Relatives of Hunter said Thursday that he told them he saw
his best friend “blown to pieces” in Iraq and came back a changed man: abusive,
violent, sleepless, edgy and plagued by flashbacks.

“He was a gunner and
he was active,” says his father, Jim Hunter. “He said he saw some things he
couldn’t get out of his mind. I know he was seeing a therapist and taking

Prozac.”

Hunter’s wife, Emily Hunter, told The Associated Press in a
phone interview that her husband was outgoing before he went to war, but when he
returned stateside, he was an emotional wreck.

“He’d just burst into
tears; spouts of anger or sadness,” she said. “There’d be one emotion but it
would be really deep, just extremely happy or extremely sad. His emotions were
always on the rocks.”

“He’d take his rage out on the wall, or throw
something,” she said.

While he wasn’t violent toward his buddies, he was
toward her, she said, adding that she went to the hospital a couple of times for
treatment of an injured arm and thumb.

She said she moved out two weeks
ago because of his violence and is pursuing a divorce.

Valbuena also
served 15 months in Iraq. His family says he loved his country and excelled in
the Army.

He earned the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal
and Iraq Campaign Medal among other awards.

More important than the
medals was his love of family.

“A guy like him is like, one in a trillion
basically,” says Aviles. “He was just such a loving person, like he always put
others in front of himself.”

Sergio Valbuena said his brother was a good
man.

“He’s a pretty good boy, a pretty good kid,” he said. “He was loved
by everybody. He was a very good brother, a very good son.

“He was always
a problem-solver. He loved this country. That’s the reason he joined the
military.”

In September, James and Valbuena graduated from Fort Drum’s
Warrior Leaders Course, which teaches skills required to lead, train, fight and
accomplish the mission as noncommissioned officers. The two and Hunter all
listed each other as friends on their MySpace pages.

Valbuena wrote on
his MySpace page that he was born in Bogota, Colombia, and had joined the
military in August 2008.

James and Valbuena served as motor transport
operators with the Headquarters Battalion of the 10th Mountain Division,
according to Fort Drum’s public affairs office.

James arrived at Fort
Drum in July 2007, while Valbuena joined in August 2007 and came to Fort Drum in
January. Both have received awards and decorations including the Army
Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq
Campaign Medal and overseas service ribbon.

James’ grandparents, who live
in Port St. John, described him as an avid outdoorsman who loved
fishing.

James lived in Brevard County for three years before joining the
Army in March 2007. He arrived in Fort Drum in July of that year.

“He
returned from his first tour of Iraq about seven months ago,” said his
grandfather, Chuck Mills. “If he could go fishing every hour of the day, he
would. He loved four-wheeling, being out in the mud.”

Valbuena’s family
is making arrangements to hold his funeral in Port St. Lucie.

Staff
writer Eric Pfahler, Kaustuv Basu of Florida Today and The Associated Press
contributed to this report.

536 total views, 1 views today

ANTIDEPRESSANTS & PAINKILLERS: Soldier Dies in his Sleep: Virginia

NOTE FROM Ann Blake-Tracy:

The first four paragraphs of this article reads like a classic
recipe for antidepressant adverse reactions, listing all of the most common and
then the reference to them being the signs of PTSD even though he was never in
combat. What is interesting is that the family understood enough to relate
it all to the drugs. And then to know that the drugs did kill him.
What they did not understand though is how much of a part of
the sexual assault the drugs might have played.
First of all false accusations of sexual assault is so
commonly reported by someone on antidepressants that for two decades I have
generally asked who the patient believes has sexually assaulted them if they
have been on these drugs more than a couple of years. The extremely vivid
drug-induced nightmares are often sexual in nature leading patients to believe
these attacks were real because they were so vivid and because the
patient can no longer detect dreams from reality while on these
drugs.
But the second component is the widespread use of these drugs
in the military and their potential to produce sexual compulsions which would
produce more sexual attacks as well as the potential of antidepressants to
produce homosexual reactions in those previously heterosexual.
So if this young man really was attacked and it was not a
delusion, the attacker may have been on an antidepressant and experiencing
the adverse reaction of mania – in particular, nymphomania-a pathological
compulsion for sex:
_____________________________________
“For years after the parachute accident that ended his Army
service, Cody Openshaw spiraled downward.

He entered college but couldn’t
keep up with his studies. He had trouble holding a job. He drank too much. He
had trouble sleeping, and when he did sleep, he had nightmares. He got married
and divorced in less than a year. He had flashbacks. He isolated himself from
his friends and drank more.

His anxiety level was out of this world,” his father said. “This was a young man who got straight A’s in high school, and
now he couldn’t function.”

Openshaw had the classic symptoms of
post-traumatic stress disorder, even though he had never been in combat. His
parents attributed the trauma to the accident and the heavy medications he was
taking for the continuing pain.

Paragraphs 61 through 64 read:  “He was still heavily
medicated, however –
with narcotics for the lingering
pain from his parachute accident and antidepressants for his
post-traumatic stress disorder.”

His first night at home,
he went to bed and never woke up.”

“The
cause of death was respiratory arrest from prescription drug
toxicity.
He was 25.”

” ‘These medications that he was on, they
build up in your bloodstream to the point of toxicity,’  his father
said.  ‘And that’s what we’re assuming happened’.”

http://hamptonroads.com/2009/10/military-men-are-silent-victims-sexual-assault

Military men are silent victims of sexual assault

By Bill
Sizemore

The Virginian-Pilot
© October 4, 2009

For years after
the parachute accident that ended his Army service, Cody Openshaw spiraled
downward.

He entered college but couldn’t keep up with his studies. He
had trouble holding a job. He drank too much. He had trouble sleeping, and when
he did sleep, he had nightmares. He got married and divorced in less than a
year. He had flashbacks. He isolated himself from his friends and drank
more.

His anxiety level was out of this world,” his father said. “This
was a young man who got straight A’s in high school, and now he couldn’t
function.”

Openshaw had the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress
disorder, even though he had never been in combat. His parents attributed the
trauma to the accident and the heavy medications he was taking for the
continuing pain.

But there was more.

Finally, he broke down and
told his father.

A few months after his accident, as he was awaiting his

medical discharge from the Army, he had been sexually assaulted.

The
attack left him physically injured and emotionally shattered. Inhibited by
shame, embarrassment, sexual confusion and fear, it took him five years to come
forward with the full story.

What truly sets this story apart, however,
is not the details of the case, horrific as they are, but the gender of the
victim.

There is a widespread presumption that most victims of sexual
assault in the military services are women. That presumption, however, is
false.

In a 2006 survey of active-duty troops, 6.8 percent of women and
1.8 percent of men said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact in the
previous 12 months. Since there are far more men than women in the services,
that translates into roughly 22,000 men and 14,000 women.

Among women,
the number of victims who report their assaults is small. Among men, it is
infinitesimal. Last year the services received 2,530 reports of sexual assault
involving female victims – and 220 involving male victims.

One of them
was Pfc. Cody Openshaw.

Now his family has made the difficult decision to
go public with his story in the hope that it will prompt the military services
to confront the reality of male sexual assault.

As Openshaw’s father put
it in an interview, “Now that they know, what are they going to do about it.”

Openshaw grew up in a large Mormon family in Utah, the fifth of
nine children. He was a mild-tempered child, an Eagle Scout who dreamed of
becoming a brain surgeon.

He was an athlete, a tireless hockey player and
a lover of the outdoors. He was prone to take off on a moment’s notice to go
hiking or camping – sometimes with a friend, often just him and his tent – among
Utah’s rugged canyons and brown scrub-covered mountains.

He had a
sensitive side, too: He was a published poet.

He looked big and menacing
but he was really a teddy bear, one of his brothers said.

When he walked
into a room, a sister said, everyone would light up.

He also had a
mischievous streak. Once after joining the Army in 2001, he went home on leave
unannounced for his mother’s birthday. He had himself wrapped up in a big
cardboard box and delivered to the front porch. When his mother opened the box,
he popped out.

Openshaw volunteered for the 82nd Airborne Division, based
at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he excelled as a paralegal and paratrooper. But his

military career came to an untimely end shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks.

As his unit was training to invade Afghanistan, a
parachute malfunction sent Openshaw plummeting 60 feet to the ground, causing
severe stress fractures in his spine and both legs.

For months as he
awaited his medical discharge, he was plagued by chronic pain. The medications
prescribed by the Army doctors only helped so much, and alcohol became a kind of
self-medication.

After a night on the town with a fellow soldier, his

father learned later, Openshaw returned to the barracks and encountered a
solicitous platoon sergeant.

His legs were hurting, and the sergeant
said, “Let me rub your legs.” Then the contact became violently sexual. Openshaw
– drunk, disabled and outranked – was in no position to resist.

The next
day the sergeant told him, “Just remember, accidents happen. They can happen to
you and to your family. You know, people show up missing.”

The story came
out in tortured bits and pieces.

Openshaw confided in his older sister
the next day in an agonized phone call but swore her to secrecy. He took his

assailant’s warning as a death threat.

“He was worried about me and the
rest of the family,” his sister said. “He said ‘We need to keep it quiet.’

Because of the reported threat to Openshaw’s family, their names and
locations have been omitted from this story.

He finally told his
therapist at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City, who
referred him to a VA sexual assault treatment center in Bay Pines, Fla. As part
of his therapy there, Openshaw shared more of the traumatic episode in a letter
to his father.

“He wanted to get better,” his brother said. ” He decided,
‘I’m going to beat this. I’m tired of five years of depression. I want to feel
alive again.’ ”

A longtime friend thinks guilt was a factor in Openshaw’s
reluctance to come forward with his story.

“I think he blamed himself
because he was drinking,” the friend said. “When the assault happened, he said
he remembered laying there and he was so drunk that he couldn’t do anything
about it.

“It really affected him. He struggled even with asking a girl
out on a date. He felt unworthy.”

Trauma from sexual assault has
become so commonplace in the military that it now has its own designation: MST,
for military sexual trauma.

The VA was first authorized to provide sexual
assault outreach and counseling to female veterans after a series of
congressional hearings in 1992. As the realization dawned that this was not just
a women’s issue, those services were extended to male veterans.

According
to a 2007 study by a team of VA researchers, a nationwide screening of veterans
seeking VA services turned up more than 60,000 with sexual trauma. More than
half of those – nearly 32,000 – were men.

Those numbers almost certainly
understate the problem, the researchers wrote, concluding that the population of
sexually traumatized men and women under the treatment of the VA is “alarmingly
large.”

Sexual trauma, the researchers found, poses a risk for developing
post-traumatic stress disorder “as high as or higher than combat
exposure.”

Among active-duty personnel, the Defense Department has
embarked on what it says is an unprecedented effort to wipe out sexual assault

in the ranks.

Key to that effort, the department says, is encouraging a
climate in which victims feel free to report the crime without fear of
retribution, stigma or harm to their careers.

In 2005, Congress
authorized the creation of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the
Military Services to examine how well the services are carrying out that
mission. Its final report is being prepared now.

The task force fanned
out across the world, hearing stories from dozens of service members who had
been victimized by sexual predators. In April, at a public meeting in Norfolk,
the group saw a slide presentation prepared by Cody Openshaw’s father.

As
the story unfolded, the hotel conference room fell silent. By the end, the
staffer who presented it – a crusty retired general – was close to
tears.

It was a rare event: Of 58 stories collected by the task force
over a year of meetings and interviews, only seven involved male
victims.

If the crime is seldom reported, it follows that it is seldom
prosecuted. According to Army court-martial records, 65 sexual assault cases
involving male victims have been prosecuted worldwide in the past five years.
There were almost 10 times that many cases, 621, involving female
victims.

The Air Force, Navy and Marines were unable to provide a
breakdown of sexual assault cases by gender.

Jim Hopper, a psychology
instructor at Harvard Medical School who has studied male sexual abuse, said
victims’ reluctance to come forward is rooted in biology and gender
socialization.

Males are biologically wired to be more emotionally
reactive and expressive than females, Hopper said, but they are socialized to
suppress their emotions.

“Boys are not supposed to be vulnerable, sad,
helpless, ashamed, afraid, submissive – anything like that is totally taboo for
boys,” he said. “The messages come from everywhere. Right from the start, a
fundamental aspect of their being is labeled as not OK.”

Military
training reinforces that socialization, Hopper said. “It conditions men to
accept physical wounds, death and killing while leaving them unprepared for
emotional wounds that assault their male identity.

“When they get
assaulted, they’re unprepared to deal with their vulnerable emotions. They
resist seeking help. They believe that their hard-earned soldier-based
masculinity has been shattered. They’re going to feel betrayed, alienated,
isolated, unworthy. They feel like they’re a fake, a fraud, not a real man,”
Hopper said.

Openshaw’s father, a marriage and family therapist, fears
that the plight of male victims will continue to get short shrift.

“The
military should take a more proactive role in understanding male sexual
assault,” he said. “They need to set up some way that these young men can get
some services without feeling so humiliated. They don ‘t have to be so macho.”

When Openshaw returned home from treatment in Florida in April
2008, his family and friends were buoyed by hope that he had turned a
corner.

The two months of treatment “did a world of good,” one friend
said.

“He texted me and said, ‘I’ve learned so many things. I’ve learned
that bad things can happen to good people, and it’s not their fault.’

“He was so excited to come home,” a sister said. “He was planning a big
party. He wanted everybody to see he was better.”

He was still heavily
medicated, however – with narcotics for the lingering pain from his parachute
accident and antidepressants for his post-traumatic stress disorder.

His

first night at home, he went to bed and never woke up.

The cause of death
was respiratory arrest from prescription drug toxicity. He was 25.

“These
medications that he was on, they build up in your bloodstream to the point of
toxicity,” his father said. “And that’s what we’re assuming happened.”

He
does not think his son committed suicide.

“I have nine children,
including Cody, and 15 grandchildren,” he said. “Cody had made arrangements for
them all to come over the next day. There was absolutely nothing in his affect
or demeanor that would suggest that he would kill himself.”

He is buried
beside a pine tree on a flat, grassy hilltop in the shadow of his beloved
mountains. His gravestone is adorned by U.S. flags, flowers and cartoon bird
figures recalling his whimsical streak.

A year later, his death remains
an open wound for the family. One younger brother is “very angry with God,” his

father said. He refuses to visit the grave.

Openshaw’s young nieces and
nephews still talk about him and ask when he’s coming over to play.

“Kids
loved him to pieces,” his mother said. “He affected everybody he
met.”

She, like her husband, hopes her son’s story will prompt the
military services to take male sexual assault more seriously: “Something needs
to be done so other service members and their families don’t have to go through
this.”

The Army Criminal Investigation Command investigated the case, but
with the victim dead and no eyewitnesses, the initial conclusion was that there
was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

The suspect has been questioned
but remains on active duty. He has been recently deployed in Iraq.

If the
case is not prosecuted, the suspect may be subject to administrative
sanctions.

Louis Iasiello, a retired rear admiral and chief of Navy
chaplains who co-chairs the sexual assault task force, said that when commanding
officers take the crime seriously, victims – whether male or female – are more
likely to come forward.

“The command really does set the tone,” he said.
In places where the command set a positive tone and also set a zero tolerance
toward this crime, it was very obvious that people felt more comfortable coming
forward and reporting an incident and getting the help they needed to begin the
healing process.”

In the Openshaw case, that clearly didn’t happen, said
Thomas Cuthbert, the task force staffer who presented the story in

Norfolk.

At the time of his attack, Openshaw was in a holding unit at
Fort Bragg for soldiers awaiting medical discharge.

“Instead of
protecting him while he was being treated, he was left alone and subject to a
predator,” said Cuthbert, a retired brigadier general.

“The kid was not
in a position where he was fully capable of defending himself, and he got hurt
by some hoodlum wearing a uniform. Any Army officer worth his salt, looking at
those facts, would get angry.

“He needed help, and instead he received
abuse of the worst kind. Leadership can’t prevent all crime. But when someone in

authority takes advantage of a subordinate, leadership should be held
accountable.”

If the services are serious about coming to grips with male
sexual assault, Cuthbert said, there is still much work to be done.

If it
can happen to a talented, promising soldier in the 82nd Airborne, he said,
plenty of others who aren’t as independent or as capable of taking care of
themselves also are at risk.

“Nobody in uniform is very happy talking
about this issue. They don’t want to publicly admit it’s there, although we all
know it’s there.”

Bill Sizemore, (757) 446-2276,
bill.sizemore@pilotonline.com

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ANTIDEPRESSANTS: Soldier Commits Suicide: Switching from One SSRI to Another

Paragraph nine reads: “Wilson’s wife had left him the previous week, but he was about to start group therapy in Charlotte. He was getting over the physical pain caused by repeated roadside blasts and getting ready to switch from one brand of antidepressants to another.”

http://www.indystar.com/article/20090901/NEWS/909010369/

Day 3: ‘In their minds it’s never gonna go away. The war is still there.’

By Konrad Marshall

Posted: September 1, 2009

The body of Jacob Raymon Blaylock was buried in Houston National Cemetery in a field of patchwork sod, with a pond and fountain nearby.

Blaylock rests in plot S1 151, among his brethren — Armed Forces personnel who died the same day. In the grave to his right is Dennis Dildine, who had a career in the service followed by one as a church pianist, until diabetes claimed him in his sleep at 56. To his left is Louis Macko, a World War II veteran and ham radio operator whose body gave out at 87.

Born on June 13, 1981, Sgt. Jacob Blaylock was 26 years old when he died. Eight months after an explosion on a highway in Iraq killed two of his friends — Sgts. Brandon Wallace and Joshua Schmit — Blaylock took his own life with a pistol.

The young musician and artist was buried one week before Christmas 2007. His best friend, Damon Lyden, Indianapolis, was among the pallbearers — six parcels of muscle and bulk poured into black T-shirts and blue jeans, white orchids pinned to their chests.

The mourners did what they had to. They buried their boy. Then they went to a strip club — friends and family, young and old, men and women — and got drunk together.

“The funeral was a huge party,” Lyden said. “Why? Because Jackie partied, man. We weren’t driving, so why not raise a glass to him and put him in the ground?”

The following day, another member of the 1451st Transportation Company would be put in the ground.

The day after Jacob Blaylock took his own life, Sgt. Jeff Wilson was in Lincolnton, N.C., coming off an overnight double at the BI-LO grocery store.

Wilson’s wife had left him the previous week, but he was about to start group therapy in Charlotte. He was getting over the physical pain caused by repeated roadside blasts and getting ready to switch from one brand of antidepressants to another.

He spent the day reorganizing his home, painting his bathroom, shifting furniture. His mother, Elaine Hefner, helped. She didn’t know her son had secretly swallowed a consequential amount of antidepressants, not until he slipped into a violent seizure.

When Wilson came out of it, he was combative with paramedics. He had another seizure on the way to the hospital. He regained consciousness but was angry and had to be talked down by police. He had additional episodes throughout the night but eventually slept.

His family visited the next morning, having worried about him all night.

Wilson, 31, had joined the National Guard as a senior in high school, served three tours in Iraq and came home to coach Little League and volunteer for the Special Olympics. But relatives had seen how his time with the 1451st had changed him, how he, too, cried over Wallace and Schmit, how he, too, believed their deaths were somehow his fault.

Wilson was nearby when they died. Part of a convoy coming from the opposite direction, he tried to warn them they were headed for a firefight. He didn’t realize they were headed for a bomb buried in the roadway.

“He never talked about Iraq until the end,” Hefner said. “But it was building up on him.”

As family members scrubbed their hands near noon at the hospital, Wilson went into cardiac arrest. The trauma damaged his kidneys. He had dialysis three times that week and was put on a respirator.

“He was on life support until Sunday,” Hefner said. “He died at 4:45 that afternoon.”

Sgt. Jeff Wilson was buried in Roseland Baptist Church Cemetery in North Carolina, where his grandparents rest.

First Sgt. Roger Parker, his former commander, was there for the funeral and the wake. Parker, 41, was a platoon leader with the 1451st in Iraq and worked in the tactical operations center.

“He knew every one of his soldiers by name — if they were married, if they had kids,” said his father, Lawrence Parker, 70. “Every time he found out something about someone, he put it in his computer and kept it there.”

He felt proud of their successes and responsible for their failures. So when Wilson died, Parker, who also lived in North Carolina, came to pay his respects. He brought a bracelet that commemorated Wallace and Schmit, and put it on Wilson’s wrist before the casket was closed.

Parker concealed it well, but he was dealing with the same problems that Wilson and Blaylock had faced: physical pain, psychological troubles and problems in his relationship. Once a month, he made the hourlong drive from Tryon to Asheville to pick up a prescription of lithium and attend counseling sessions at the VA.

Then one summer evening in July 2008, Parker called his dad to talk about a new lawnmower. The father and son had spent the day at the beach together, but after a day in the sand and surf, Parker now sounded distant.

He didn’t tell his father he loved him, which he always did. And he didn’t tell him things had turned rotten, which they had. At 3:15 in the morning, the elder Parker heard the doorbell ringing and answered in his shorts.

“It was the police,” he said. “They got inside and said the words that changed my life: ‘Roger Parker hung himself.’ ”

Parker was the third member of the unit to take his own life since returning from Iraq.

For the 1451st Transportation Company, suicide had become the leading cause of death.

A ceremony was planned to bring together those suffering, for a time of peace and mourning. Members of the 1451st realized what was happening, and they intended to pause and reflect.

But in September 2008 — just two months after Parker hanged himself — that optimistic calm was shattered.

The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office received a dropped 911 call from Fox Winkler Road in Lenoir, N.C. — the home of Larry Wayne Brucke Jr., who had changed his name to Skip Brinkley after he returned from Iraq.

Brucke, 32, was a police officer before joining the National Guard and serving with the 1451st in Iraq. He was now busy setting up a place for himself, his fiancee and her three kids on 37 idyllic acres.

When Deputy Adam Klutz arrived, he discovered a distressed fiancee who said Brucke had headed into the surrounding pasture and woods, possibly armed. The 25-year-old deputy began to search the area.

As backup arrived, Brucke shot Klutz in the head.

A second officer, Lt. Christopher Martin, arrived and was shot three times in the chest with the same .223-caliber rifle. Klutz died, and Martin lived — saved by his vest.

Brucke wasn’t especially close to Wallace or Schmit — or to Blaylock, Wilson and Parker, for that matter — but Iraq took a toll on the unit as a whole, said Lyden, no matter who your friends were.

“People changed over there,” he said. “I mean, Brucke killed a cop. Hell, Brucke was a cop.”

Brucke vanished, and warrants were issued for murder and attempted murder. A statewide search began, involving the FBI and U.S. marshals, and a $20,000 reward was offered for information leading to the capture of a 5-foot-8, blond-haired, green-eyed, goateed veteran, last seen in a gray Carhartt T-shirt and Farm Bureau hat. An FBI alert said the fugitive was a man who liked training mules and horses, was a proficient heavy machine operator, and was perhaps unstable and taking Zoloft.

One week later, as the funeral for the slain police officer began, other local law enforcement officers stood in a remote, wooded area a few hundred yards from Brucke’s residence.

Before them lay an M4 assault rifle with scope, two pistols and a cache of ammunition. There, also, was the body of Larry Wayne Brucke Jr.

He was seated in a ravine, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

One month later, in October 2008, Rick Blaylock, Heidi Plumley and Damon Lyden gathered with 150 mourners in the high country of North Carolina, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in front of the National Guard Armory in the town of Boone, named for Daniel Boone.

The three of them — the father, the fiancee and the friend — were there to pay tribute to Blaylock, Wilson, Parker, Brucke, Wallace and Schmit.

They listened to the opening prayer, “The Star Spangled Banner” by loudspeaker and a live rendition of “God Bless the USA.” The ceremony was held in the newly minted memorial garden of the 1451st — the first thing you see when you approach the armory. The flower beds, filled with petals of red, white and blue, are bordered by four Bradford pear trees and six marble benches. A 5-ton boulder serves as a memorial to soldiers everywhere who have given their lives for freedom.

Blaylock, Plumley and Lyden stared at a statue and a walkway covered by two white sheets. Removed, they revealed a bronze battlefield cross, plaques for Wallace and Schmit, and commemorative bricks in honor of Blaylock, Wilson, Parker and Brucke.

People wept and hugged. Heads fell onto shoulders. Arms reached around backs. Hands were wrung in front of chests. The event did not involve the state or the wider public. The 1451st wanted it as personal as possible, for the soldiers and their families.

Rick Blaylock said he was touched “beyond words” by the event. Heidi Plumley, Jacob Blaylock’s fiancee, found it tough to stay strong. But for Lyden, the ceremony was merely a continuation of a sad fellowship, observed this time over too many drinks back at the hotel.

“We had our memorials in Iraq. We went and saw the families after we got back. We went to Houston and buried Jackie,” he said. “I don’t put much stock in a brick with a name on it. The guy’s still dead.”

But for others, it was an opportunity for the unit to close the matter. Almost one year later, no one else from the 1451st Transportation Company has died.

Lyden still lives in Indianapolis. He works for Artistic Skin Designs in Noblesville, and if you ask him what he thinks of the Army, he points to a tattoo on his right hand — his saluting hand — that reads “F.T.A.” He likes to remember Blaylock as his little buddy, a happy but fragile kid, everyone’s baby brother.

Plumley still lives in Houston. She used to wake up to the sound of the gunshot that ended Blaylock’s life. Now she dreams about the two of them sitting on a porch — him scuffing up the white nose of her Chuck Taylors, because Chucks weren’t cool unless the front was dirty.

Rick and Jacqueline Blaylock remain in Lowell. On a cold day in March, they sat stiffly on a loveseat in their attic, huddled on a John Deere fleece. Rick sparked a Newport. Jacqueline took a sip from a can of Busch Light.

She said she likes to play the happy songs her son wrote. She said she remembers the way he would embarrass her by putting on a British accent when they went shopping together. And she said she worries about other mothers, because of their sons.

“In their minds, it’s never gonna go away. The war is still there,” she said, tapping her head. “No doctor can read what they’re going through. They carry it home. All of it.”

Rick said he likes to hold the objects his son left behind: an old guitar, a new watch, the bandanna and goggles he wore on missions, the video camera he strapped to his M-16.

And he likes to look at two paintings Blaylock put on canvas when he was 17, a decade before he died. The first shows a calm ocean, a lighthouse, cliffs and a golden sunrise. It makes Rick smile.

But when he looks at the second one, he wonders whether his son somehow saw all the pain coming, for himself and for the men of the 1451st.

The painting hangs above a narrow carpeted staircase. It is all darkness — swells of water rising and falling, stormy skies above and a little rowboat with three figures inside: two gray phantoms and an infantryman in green.

“Jacob painted that for me, before he even went into the Army,” said Rick, shaking his head. “See? Two soldiers — ghosts — and one still alive, paddling by himself.”

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