From the Sacramento Bee:
That day the young soldier, whose assignment included driving a Humvee through perhaps the most dangerous ZIP code on the globe, saw his sergeant blown to pieces. He saw the bodies of half of the men in his platoon torn apart. Heads were cut off and limbs severed. It happened 30 yards in front of him, and he had never been so afraid, he told his mom.
“My arms are around you,” Donna Hogue wrote. “You’ll be alright.”
But Hogue never really recovered. Last week, he committed suicide by hanging himself in the backyard of his childhood home. He was 24 years old.
At least 128 U.S. soldiers killed themselves last year, a number that has risen four years in a row. The death toll could be even higher this year. Through April, 91 soldiers had committed suicide.
Hogue’s death, because it occurred after he was discharged, is not included in those statistics. But his friends and loved ones believe he was a casualty of war as much as any soldier on active duty.
“You think that they are safe when they get back home,” Donna Hogue said, tearfully reading printed messages that she and her son exchanged while he was at war. “They’re not. The reality of the things that they experienced continues to haunt them.”
After his 15-month tour in Iraq ended and he came home the following February, Hogue suffered bouts of depression. He slept too much and uncharacteristically lashed out at strangers. Loud noises disturbed him. Responsible and law-abiding in the past, he became somewhat reckless and was charged with a DUI.
Read the rest of the article here.