Top left, Airman Andrew Norlund, praised for his work ethic, was frustrated and angry. Top right, Sgt. Matthew A. Proulx, a soldier to the end, had no interest in seeking help. Bottom left, Staff Sgt. Justin Reyes, a proven leader in Iraq, was troubled back in the U.S. Bottom right, Sgt. Gary Underhill loved the Army life, but had nightmares and anxiety.
Suicides are the tragic consequences of war
Scarred by military trauma and with damaged pysches, four area soldiers took their own lives
By Lou Michel NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Updated: 11/04/07 10:21 AM
Add these four local men to the military’s list of casualties. Matthew A. Proulx. Andrew L. Norlund. Justin C. Reyes. Gary M. Underhill. They didn’t die in combat. They didn’t die from friendly fire. They died by their own hands.
No comprehensive studies are available on the reasons for suicides connected to the ongoing military actions, but Army officials say the suicide rate among its personnel is now the highest it has been since the first Gulf War.
Ninety-nine soldiers killed themselves last year. A third of those deaths involved individuals who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to the Army.
The rate of suicide since the Iraq War began in 2003 has increased from 12.4 per 100,000 soldiers to 17.3 per 100,000 last year, and that does not include veterans who served in the two war zones and later returned to civilian life.
With the four Erie County men, it would be difficult to argue that the war did not affect their mental conditions before they killed themselves.
One died after returning home from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder. Another returned from Iraq with posttraumatic stress disorder and began drinking heavily.
A third Iraq veteran knew he needed help but would not seek it. The fourth was in mental anguish and headed to Iraq.
Their families and friends say they are as much casualties of war as the soldiers who die on the battlefield.
“Men and women who serve in a war zone have a unique experience with violence and death. They bring this experience home with them, and for these individuals suicidal thoughts can be especially lethal,” said Houston Crum, a Veterans Affairs counselor who works with returning veterans and their families in the Buffalo Niagara region.
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Linked from Veterans For Common Sense
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