Sunday, July 21, 2013

PTSD haunts Marine, his family

When war ends, wounds remain: PTSD haunts Fredericksburg Marine, his family

On March 20, 2003, when U.S. combat troops were ordered over the Line of Departure from the desert of Kuwait into heavily defended southern Iraq, Jason Haag was in the second vehicle across.

Elizabeth Haag said her husband felt guilty about attending a 2005 Marine Corps Ball when fallen comrades couldn’t.

The Virginia native, who now lives in the Fredericksburg area, was 21 years old, a Marine sergeant assigned to 2nd Battalion, Fifth Marines, Echo Company, in Regimental Combat Team 5. He was also the father of a 6-month-old son.

His wife, Elizabeth, was in California, living off-base near Camp Pendleton, anxiously watching CNN.

It would be eight months before she heard from her husband, who she’d known since middle school. There would be no phone call, no email, no letter, no Skype, nothing. The only way she would know that Haag was alive was by the fact that no Marine officers showed up at her house to tell her any different.

‘This is Jason pre-war, pre-kids, young and innocent,’ says Elizabeth of the couple’s first holiday card photo. Elizabeth also had no way of knowing that the young husband who did finally return would be markedly changed from the lively, gregarious man she had married—sullen and withdrawn, sleeping with a loaded gun, drinking a 12-pack to get to sleep, haunted by nightmares of the war.
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