The casualties continue to mount after they come home ...

News & Politics

A rose for their graves ...

  • David Fickel, a 25-year-old Minnesotan honorably discharged from the Marine Corps after serving in Iraq, used a shotgun to take his own life on Memorial Day, 2006

  • Linda Michel, a 33-year-old Navy medic from Albany, who served at a U.S.-run prison near Baghdad, returned to her husband and three children last October and, two weeks later, shot and killed herself

  • Jonathan Schulze, a 25-year-old from New Prague, MN, asked to be admitted to a VA hospital on January 11 because he was thinking of killing himself. Told he was No. 26 on the waiting list, he hung himself at his parents' farm, leaving behind his pregnant wife and a young daughter

  • Michael Bramer, a 23-year-old from Boston who had served with the Army's 82d Airborne Division, turned up the surround sound on his television on January 17 and took his own life

  • Jessica Rich, a 24-year-old Army Reservist and mother of a 7-year-old son, despaired of leaving behind her nightmares and flashbacks of Iraq. On February 8, she drove her car into oncoming traffic on I-25 outside of Denver and died

  • Chris Dana, a 23-year-old Iraq war veteran from Helena who friends said wore his uniform and boots for weeks at a time, even to sleep, shut himself in his bedroom in March, put a blanket over his head, and shot himself

It is only recently that I have come to think of myself as a war widow. When my husband Daniel came home from Vietnam in 1970, the relationship between combat-related stress and suicide was officially unrecognized. When Daniel took his own life, it never occurred to me to blame the war. I thought that if only I had been kinder, more patient, more vigilant, I might have prevented his death. The shame and guilt on top of my grief were a terrible burden. It was decades before I could find some compassion and forgiveness for that young woman who had no idea what she was up against.

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