This tragedy is far too common. Our valiant men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are dealing with guerrilla warfare and constant threat of ambush and IEDs during patrols and convoys. Not only that, their own safety often comes through eliminating the enemy and killing creates its own psychological trauma. Our troops have been subjected to physical and mental duress and the post traumatic stress is not a condition that a servicemember can just “suck it up”. It requires comprehensive care.
If you know veterans who have returned from a combat theater, please be mindful and aware; if you believe they are suffering from post traumatic stress, seek help with them or for them. Contact local veterans organizations to possibly contact the affected individual. Sometimes the veteran will only relate with another veteran. Encourage him or her to get care. Contact us if you need a helping hand in bringing care to those who endure wounds in their nation’s service. We cannot sit idly by while casualties occur at home.
Fox 23 (Tulsa) – The family of a United States Marine Corp. corporal who killed himself on Sunday wants to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Cpl. Wade Austin Toothman suffered from PTSD for three years. He served two tours in his four years with the Marine Corp. He deployed to Afghanistan from January 1, 2008 to August 31, 2008. Then he toured in Iraq from May 1, 2009 to October 31st of 2009. He was held for three months after his return from Iraq to be officially medically discharged.
Cpl. Toothman’s aunt, Debi Hendrix said “When he came home the first time I looked in his eyes and he wasn’t there. He lost his best friend in an accident where he was blown up and I think that pretty much started everything.”
She said he got some help but not enough.
“He should have stayed longer but he just wanted to come home,” said Hendrix. “But he literally told them what they wanted to hear so he could come home. “
Hendrix was the first to read Cpl. Toothman’s suicide note. She said she feels guilty for not realizing how much he was suffering.
“I missed it,” said Hendrix. “We aren’t qualified. We aren’t doctors. We aren’t supposed to be; that’s why we have to find a way to help these people.”
She told FOX23 she plans to call each and every one of her nephew’s military friends who served overseas and make sure they get the help they need. She said she cannot live her life feeling guilty.
“When I read it I felt like fool,” said Hendrix as she described the moment she “I knew this child so well; he was with me constantly. I did not know he was suffering. He would say aunt Debi, it’s buzzing in my head. It’s bad.”
The state’s mental health department said veteran suicide is an epidemic. Last year, 210 veterans took their own lives in Oklahoma and nationally, 6,000 veterans killed themselves.
The state said signs to look for are if veterans are giving their personal belongings away or not talking about future activities.
Source: Fox23.com, October 26, 2012, by Danica Lawrence