Clay Hunt could not overcome the damage that war inflicted. 60 Minutes covered his story in last night’s segment as he returned from war haunted and ultimately killed himself after years of struggle. His story is far too common: a veteran returns but eventually takes his or her own life. A staggering 22 veterans complete suicide everyday.
Clay Hunt was a combat veteran Marine who earned a Purple Heart but suffered from post-traumatic stress from serving in Iraq. His service led to depression and he kept reliving his experiences feeling helpless and unable to protect his brothers-in-arms that had been killed or injured. In order to deal with his PTSD, he turned to humanitarian efforts, volunteering to help earthquake survivors in Haiti. He also turned to the VA for counseling and filed a claim for disability benefits.
But the benefits did not come, like so many other cases, his claim was caught up in inexcusable delays. In addition to his depression and PTSD, he racked up debt waiting for benefits. He tried to deal with his post-traumatic stress in a variety of ways but his depression was too severe and he ultimately he took his life at 28 years of age.
His fellow Marines now feel that they have failed him. The bonds they forged and the responsibility they have for one another cannot be overstated. That responsibility transcends the battlefield. If that level of responsibility was borne by policymakers, we may see our veterans have better outcomes. RIP Clay Hunt.
Source: 60 Minutes, March 3, 2013