It is now known that Skip Brinkley, the man eluding authorities in Lenoir after killing a police officer and wounding another on Friday, is an Iraq war veteran who received Army Ranger training at some point in his military career. This brings a largely untold story of how post-traumatic stress disorder is severely affecting many veterans of the War on Terror much closer to home.
In this startling report by CBS earlier this year, studies of 45 states showed that in 2005, there were 6,256 suicides among veterans of American armed forces. Thats more than 120 per week, twice the amount of civilians during that year. The most unique stat among these results was the fact that the highest spike in suicides by members of the armed forces, past or present, was in the 20-24 age range, who showed a likeliness to commit suicide 2-4 times higher than that of their peers. These are almost all kids who have served in Afghanistan or Iraq. As sad as these numbers are, these are mostly people who take their own lives.
What about the ones who snap under the weight of post-traumatic stressdisorder and hurt or kill the ones around them, such as Matthew Sepi, who killed two men in his neighborhood during a certain fit of PTSD? Sepi killed two armed gang members who approached him as he walked to the gas station in 2005. When police caught him soon after he told them he had been ambushed and engaged the targets. Stories like these tell the true story of how war affects young mens minds.
The stigma that surrounds this disability, and it is a disability, is thick for those returning from war and we cant expect the veterans who think they have problems to seek help themselves. Until the government steps in with a surefire plan, mentally-disabled veterans and innocent people will continue to die, such as more surely will before Brinkley is brought in whenever he is found. The mystery is will it be him, another police officer or an innocent victim in the path of a very troubled, dangerous man.
A very unique account of PTSD from a soldiers viewpoint...