Friday, May 25, 2007

In the Aftermath of War, Soldiers Need our Support

"It is the youth who must inherit the tribulation, the sorrow... that are the aftermath of war. " – Herbert Hoover

We mourn and honor those who have died serving our country. Yet we must remember that the ravages of war linger in the bodies, minds and spirits of those who have fought and returned home. Many veterans suffer from lost limbs, mental health issues, or other serious injuries. It is the responsibility of this nation to support them in their time of need.

Army Master Sergeant James Coons had seen action in the first Gulf War and in Iraq in 2003. His experiences haunted him and he suffered from a deep depression. Upon his return in June 2003, and while under medical care at Walter Reed Medical Center, Master Sgt. Coons committed suicide. His death is another reminder that we have fallen short of supporting our returning soldiers.

[Reprinted from ABC News website –

Bob Woodruff: 'Where Is the Accountability?'
Nearly Four Years After Soldier Son Committed Suicide While in Military Care, His Family Speaks Out About Their Experience
By Bob Woodruff
The parents of Master Sgt. James Coons spoke to Congress today to express their concerns over veteran care -- their son committed suicide after he returned from Iraq. They previously spoke with Bob Woodruff about their experience in the following report from April 23.

On July 4, 2003, Carol and Richard Coons had planned to welcome home their son Master Sgt. James Coons, a career soldier who had seen action in Iraq in 2003 and during the first Gulf War. Instead, they found out James was dead.

He had committed suicide in his room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Walter Reed staff did not find him until at least two days after his death, and only then at the insistence of his family, who were desperate to locate their son.

In their first network television interview since their son's death, Carol and Richard Coons sat down with me to talk about their family's anger and quest for answers. "They didn't take care of my son. They just didn't take care of him," Carol said.

Just a few days earlier, Coons, 35, had been evacuated from a base in Kuwait because he had overdosed on sleeping pills. An Army doctor at a combat hospital labeled the action a "suicidal gesture," according to Coons' medical records.

Coons told medical personnel that he had visited a morgue on the base to pay his respects to the fallen soldiers and had been haunted by one of the faces -- that of a Navy corpsman who had been badly burned and disfigured by an IED.

His parents knew from talking to him on the phone that he was troubled -- they say his voice began to sound different, and they could tell that he was under a lot of strain. "He said, 'The things that I've seen are really bothering me,'" said Carol. "He would see demons and he was trying to control his demons," added Richard.


ABC News Website Article Click here to visit site
Houston Chronicle Article Click here to visit site

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