Saturday, April 2, 2016

Suicide Hits Minnesota National Guard Hard

Suicide hits hard among the ranks of Minnesota National Guard
A father's despair over his son's death in Iraq drives home a suicide crisis for Minnesota National Guard.
Star Tribune
By Mark Brunswick
APRIL 1, 2016
Few organizations have felt the crisis in military suicides more than the Minnesota National Guard. In the past five years, more of its members have died by suicide than all but one state Guard in the country.
Kim Schmit knew her husband was in trouble, that much was clear.

It had been seven years since the Willmar couple’s 26-year-old son, Josh, had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq while serving in the Army. Greg Schmit, an 18-year member of the Minnesota National Guard, had found it particularly hard to adjust.

Out of guilt and grief, his life had dissolved into a series of unproductive counseling sessions at the VA. A medley of medications for anxiety, depression and sleeplessness now frequently left him either lethargic or irritable. Contributing to his despair, he contended that the Guard had been unsupportive after Josh’s death and that a few commanders had conspired to ruin his career and have him fired.

Late on a July night last year, Kim would later tell authorities, she was awakened by her husband struggling for breath next to her. She spotted the prescription bottles. All were empty. Within minutes, Greg Schmit, the by-the-book supply sergeant, was rushed to the hospital in a futile attempt to save his life.
Few organizations have felt the crisis in military suicides more than the Minnesota National Guard. In the past five years, more of its members have died by suicide than all but one state Guard in the country. Minnesota’s Guard is the 10th largest state Guard by size. But when it comes to suicide, its 27 deaths rank second only to Pennsylvania’s 30.
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