AP Photo/Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez
From what I understand, he really didn’t say anything. He just walked into an abandoned building on the edge of the forward operating base’ outside perimeter in Iraq, stuck his belt-fed M249 barrel into his mouth and pulled the trigger. He didn’t live long after that. I didn’t see him, as they rushed him into the battalion aid station, since by then I was already attached to a unit as the first line medical support. I don’t think anyone ever knew exactly why he did it either. He didn’t even get a mention on the memorial, a painted blast wall with the names of others who had died of combat-related injuries. No, instead his name would be forever associated with the euphemism the Army liked to use at these times, “died as a result of non-combat related injuries.”
As I pulled into my driveway, a story on "Here & Now," the public radio midday news program, caught my ear. It involved Dr. Suzanne Sisley and her quest to study whole-plant marijuana’s impact on individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder through a Food and Drug Administration-approved study. Incidentally, Sisley has not had her contract renewed with the University of Arizona where she had planned to perform her study, and, according to Sisley, the failure of the university to provide an office space for the study for more than two years manifested as a direct result of the politics surrounding the study.
There has been no shortage of issues covered regarding veterans who have had a prolonged post-traumatic stress response to combat. Indeed, the media, along with many institutions, do not know how to “handle” us. A Google search for “worrisome veteran” came up with this disparaging video put out by Pennsylvania State University, who later took it down amidst an outcry from veterans and veteran groups. There can be no doubt that both in practice and in theory there is a stereotypical narrative directed against veterans in general, even before the so-called "new" development of post-traumatic stress disorder. (Of note, Shakespeare’s Henry IV appears to meet many, if not all, the criteria for PTSD.)