BY GLENN PUIT
January 2, 2013
BEULAH — Eric Lewis Harm survived combat in Afghanistan, but he couldn’t survive coming home.
The decorated Army combat veteran was found dead Dec. 28, an apparent suicide in Manistee County, four months after he left the military. Harm, 24, was a 2007 graduate of Benzie Central schools and grew up in Almira Township.
His family said combat trauma played a role in his decision to take his own life.
“He was just always a happy guy, always looking to help other people and do good,” said his aunt, Dwin Dykema.
“He couldn’t deal with the things that he saw over there.”
A Manistee County sheriff’s sergeant declined comment on the cause of death, citing an open investigation.
The tragedy has Dykema and Harm’s parents wanting to help other veterans deal with the stress of life after combat. Dykema also started an online fundraising campaign to help pay for Harm’s funeral.
“There needs to be more awareness,” Dykema said. “These guys don’t come home with a care package. We are going to move forward and see if we can start a (veterans’ assistance) initiative.”
U.S. Army spokesman Mark Edwards said Harm was a motor transport operator on active duty from May 2009 to September 2012. His initial training was at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and his duty station was at Fort Knox, Ky. Harm deployed to Afghanistan from January 2011 to January 2012.
The problem of veterans taking their lives after combat is not a new tragedy to northern Michigan. U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph H. Baker II, 32, bottled up his emotions and ultimately took his own life in January 2011 in Antrim County. Family members said Baker suffered from terrifying nightmares and other symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
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