Press Democrat News
February 14, 2016
On Sunday, in a scene all too familiar across the country, more than 100 friends and family members, surrounded by a protective phalanx of veterans with the Patriot Guard and American Legion on motorcycles, gathered at Cypress Hill Cemetery in Petaluma to say goodbye to a young man variously called “intense,” “loyal, ”committed,” “compassionate,” “heroic” and even “God-sent.”
Lynnett Casey watches as military rites are given to her son, Combat Medic Sgt. Raymond Burnside, a U.S. Army veteran, at Cypress Hill Memorial Park in Petaluma, February 14, 2016. Burnside killed himself after suffering from service-related PTSD due to serving as an Army Medic in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Jeremy Portje/For The Press Democrat)As an Army medic, Ray Burnside was called upon to save many lives during two tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition to administering care that included performing emergency surgery on fellow soldiers in combat, he was credited with providing medical help to more than 4,000 Iraqis and veterinary services to 2,000 head of livestock.
His humanitarian efforts built up the kind of trust and loyalty among Iraqi civilians that helped the U.S. military gain critical access to key tribal leaders, officials said in a letter awarding him the Bronze Star.
But the one life Burnside could not repair or save was his own. Beneath his man-of-steel exterior, the sensitive young Sonoma County native who as a teenager was a pacifist and handed out food to homeless people in Old Courthouse Square was imploding into a thousand little pieces.
In the small hours of the morning on Jan. 27, nearly four years after he was honorably discharged and returned home to Santa Rosa, Burnside checked into a Santa Rosa motel and texted his mother, Lynnette Casey, that he had a rope with which to hang himself.
read more here