Friday, September 9, 2016

PTSD Soldier Says "Only Way to Beat That Enemy Is Ask For Help"

Benning soldier says battling suicidal feelings is tougher than combat
The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Tribune)
By Chuck Williams
Published: September 9, 2016

“You realize that you are truly facing an enemy that you cannot defeat by yourself — an enemy that knows every secret, every weak point and every ounce of guilt inside you. The only way to beat that enemy is to call for help.”
Staff Sgt. David Mensink
As an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team leader, Army Staff Sgt. David Mensink was trained to deal with volatile situations.
Staff Sgt. David Mensink is shown in this 2010 file photo. U.S. ARMY PHOTO
But the 28-year-old Missouri native assigned to Fort Benning wasn’t trained to deal with the demons that led him to take 57 sleeping pills nearly three months ago in an attempt to end his life.

Thursday, Mensink received the Soldier’s Medal, the highest honor a soldier can receive for an act of valor in a non-combat situation, for his actions at a Birmingham, Ala., hospital when he removed a live grenade from a man’s leg.

Instead of talking about those actions nearly two years ago, Mensink used what should have been his moment of glory to talk about his darkest hour and what has become an urgent military issue: suicide.


“I have personally been pinned down by enemy fire, blown up, have had buddies die in front of me, and I have never felt more embattled than those days I sat alone in my driveway, hours on end, wishing I could do better and wishing I could ask for help,” Mensink told about 75 soldiers at the Maneuver Center of Excellence’s Derby Hall. “At the same time, my pride and my shame and guilt kept me from doing so.”

Mensink, by his count, is no stranger to death. Over his 11-year career, he’s had 13 close friends or colleagues killed in combat — and 11 more who have taken their own lives, he said.
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