[Marxism] "I've come to bring you hell"... then hell found him
Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Sun Nov 14 09:21:03 MST 2004
IRAQ -- UNSEEN WOUNDS CUT DEEP
A mental health crisis is emerging, with one in six returning soldiers
afflicted, experts say.
By Esther Schrader, LA Times Staff Writer
The pain of the needle felt good to the 40-year-old former Army
sergeant, whose memories of his nine months as a machine-gunner in Iraq
had left him, he said, "feeling dead inside." LaBranche's back is now
covered in images, the largest the dark outline of a sword. Drawn from
his neck to the small of his back, it is emblazoned with the words
LaBranche says encapsulate the war's effect on him: "I've come to bring
. . .
Army and Veterans Administration mental health experts say there is
reason to believe the war's ultimate psychological fallout will worsen.
The Army survey of 6,200 soldiers and Marines included only troops
willing to report their problems. The study did not look at reservists,
who tend to suffer a higher rate of psychological injury than career
Marines and soldiers. And the soldiers in the study served in the early
months of the war, when tours were shorter and before the Iraqi
insurgency took shape.
Before the war, LaBranche was living in Saco, Maine, with his wife and
children and had no history of mental illness. He deployed to Iraq with
a National Guard transportation company based in Bangor. He came home a
different person. Just three days after he was discharged from Walter
Reed, he was arrested for threatening his former wife. When he goes to
court Dec. 9, he could be looking at jail time.
He lies on a couch at his brother's house most days now, struggling
with the image of the Iraqi woman who died in his arms after he shot
her, and the children he says caught some of his bullets. His speech is
pocked with obscenities.
On a recent outing with friends, he became so enraged when he saw a
Muslim family that he had to take medication to calm down. He is seeing
a therapist, but only once every two weeks. "I'm taking enough drugs to
sedate an elephant, and I still wake up dreaming about it," LaBranche
said. "I wish I had just freaking died over there."
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