Every once in a while I take on a case that has even more meaning than the suffering of my client alone. Last week we took on such a case and it really brings home the cost of the war in Iraq and an incredible injustice that is being done to our veterans.
I was contacted about a Marine who had returned from Iraq (he had done multiple tours) with his unit. He was what is called “squared away” – multiple citations for valor, a really outstanding Marine. He was the kind of guy who volunteered for check points because he didn’t want his friends to pull dangerous duties.
He was best friends with a man who suffered from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and who eventually committed suicide after he got back. His senior NCO had my client clean up his friend’s brains from the walls and floor because, he was told, he was responsible for his friend.
The adjustment of being back in the States became very difficult, especially after the suicide of his friend. My client became depressed, had nightmares, etc. – all of the classic symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He threatened suicide with a pistol and the police were called. He surrendered to the police and emptied the clip to his pistol onto the street. The police took his pistol and were in the process of arresting him when he was shot in the neck by one of the officers with the same pistol he had surrendered to them. He is now a quadriplegic. I am representing him and trying to prevent the University of Michigan Hospital from transferring him to a V.A. Hospital, where he is likely to get substandard care.
None of the Armed Services recognizes the diagnosis of PTSD, even though it has been a recognized medical illness for decades. They do not want to take on the costs of treating service men and women traumatized by war. This is unjust. I will take care of my client, but what about the thousands of others who are suffering? Last month we lost more servicemen and women to suicide than we did to combat. That is a disgrace and I hope everyone reading this will write their Congressperson and demand action on this serious problem.