Pensacola News Journal
Melissa Nelson Gabriel
September 17, 2106
"For every IED you disarm, you save between one and 10 lives, but there is always another one you cannot take care of that gets hit. There becomes a point where it haunts your nightmares and it haunts your thoughts during the day." Air Force Sgt. Chris Ferrell
Danelle Hackett wanted her Marine husband to focus on the lives he saved disarming IEDs as a military bomb technician during two tours in Iraq.
Maj. Jeff Hackett could only focus on his 16 colleagues who died during the dangerous bomb disposal missions he led from early 2005 through late 2007.Maj. Jeff Hackett and his wife, Danelle. Danelle didn't know what to do to helpher husband when he returned from his dangerous combat tours diffusing explosives.(Photo: Special to the News Journal)
"My husband looked at those guys as his own family, his own sons. Repeatedly losing techs just wore on him and wore him. He blamed himself for every death," Danelle Hackett said.
In June 2010, after a day of drinking at an American Legion Post in Wyoming near the family's home, Jeff Hackett downed a couple more swigs of alcohol, said "cheers" and shot and killed himself.
Among the highly skilled and elite ranks of military explosive ordnance disposal technicians — the men and women who have been on the front line of the war on terror since Sept. 11, 2001 — suicide is a growing concern.
"It is literally an epidemic," said Ken Falke, a former EOD technician and founder of the Niceville-based EOD Warrior Foundation, which supports current and former military EOD techs and their families.
EOD tech Air Force Sgt. Chris Ferrell has attempted suicide four times. He has a sleeve of tattoos on his arm with 26 stars, each one represents a friend he lost on the battlefield. (Photo: Special to the News Journal)
Air Force Sgt. Chris Ferrell, a 32-year-old EOD tech who has had many combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 13 years, has attempted suicide four times.
He has a sleeve of tattoos on his arm with 26 shaded-in stars, each one represents a friend he has lost on the battlefield.
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