PHOENIX — “Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war.”
These are the words of post-traumatic stress disorder.
They are the words of Daniel Somers, an Iraq War veteran who took his life last month. He left behind a powerful suicide note that went viral on the Internet after his family shared it with media in Phoenix, where he was from.
His note gives readers a clear understanding of what it’s like to suffer from crippling depression and war-related psychosis. It also slams the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which he characterized as careless.
“My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure,” Somers wrote in his note.
“All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety.”
Somers was a sergeant in an intelligence unit, where he ran 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee. According to his parents, Howard and Jean Somers, their son was diagnosed with PTSD, a brain injury, Gulf War syndrome, fibromyalgia and a host of other medical problems in 2008, one year after the end of his second deployment.
The VA and nonprofit support groups, such as Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, known as TAPS, insist that there are mental health programs to help soldiers suffering as Somers did — that suicide is not the solution.
But Somers’ parents feel the military failed to help their son, who they say was more than just a sum of his wartime injuries.
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