War is hell, as we are fond of saying, particularly those of us who have never faced real fire.
It’s one way we try to relate to those who have.
Below is a Ted Talk from someone who has experienced war, as well as a story about a Myrtle Beach area hero who was killed far away from the battlefield, something that happens too frequently and we don’t talk about enough.
Here is a 13-minute video worth your time, a talk about why some young soldiers miss war when they’ve left:
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A reminder of the sacrifice many young men and women have made:
ISSAC J. BAILEY A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE:
Some heroes fall far from the front line
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Seven S.C. families will be traveling to Columbia on Wednesday to participate in a ceremony to honor the state's most recent fallen heroes.
At least one more family should be added to that list.
Army Spc. Curtis Applegate, an Iraq war veteran, died earlier this year. His parents, mother Cindy and stepfather Danny Patton, live in Surfside Beach. But they didn't get to see his body return home in a flag-draped coffin.
They received a call from Colorado that said he had killed himself. He had been fighting post-traumatic stress disorder, had been ushered from doctor to doctor, had been prescribed pill after pill. He had earned multiple medals - the Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal with Valor to name two.
He had watched people torn apart by roadside bombs and bullets, had to make gut-wrenching decisions about when his mission meant he needed to add to that carnage.
"Curtis jumped in, saved a ton of lives," Cindy Patton said. "He just couldn't take the pain no more."
But his name wasn't on the list sent out by the S.C. Senate Republican Caucus. David L. Leimbach of Taylors was on it. So was Danny E. Maybin of Columbia, Garrett T. Lawton of Beaufort, Matthew J. Taylor of Hanahan, Richard G. Cliff Jr. and Adam M. Wenger of Mount Pleasant, and our own Ronald Phillips Jr.
Applegate's name isn't on that list or on any number of media databases of U.S. soldier deaths in Iraq.
But he was added to another one. The Army recorded more suicides in 2008 than at any time during 28 years of record keeping, a trend that has continued.
It's easy to account for those who die in battle or come back with one less limb. It's not as easy to account for the demons soldiers fight back at home.
Ross E. Parsons wasn't killed in combat, rather in a car accident on May 22 after returning from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"My son made it back ... but he had changed," said Parsons' mother, Sue Reynolds of the Blue Star Mothers. "He had a very bad temper, road rage, ended up getting a divorce. Was it the rage from what happened in his deployment that changed him? Possibly. Was he having a hard time coping with what the saw, the death, suicide bombings, mutilation of human beings? Possibly."
Rita Parks, another Blue Star Mother, said her son saw a person disintegrate after an IED attack.
"I would love to see more coverage of PTSD and it not being treated as a sickness," she said. "It is a result of living in hell - that is war ."
Curtis Applegate experienced that hell.
"I don't know what happened," said Krista Applegate, his 29-year-old widow.
After Iraq, they were stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado. He was still loving, still caring. They were still a young married couple in love
He enrolled in the Warrior Transition Unit at his base, designed to help soldiers with war -related problems. He had counseling, had seen all those doctors - his widow said too many of whom didn't probe deeply enough the depths of her husband's struggles.
Some days his headaches were so pronounced he couldn't leave the couch. Other days he'd curl up in the fetal position.
Krista tried desperately to lend him her ear, to get him to open up.
Two days before he killed himself, he saw another in a long line of doctors.
The day of his death began with a disturbance that prompted Krista to call 911. Her husband was firing bullets into the ground in their house.
After an hour, a SWAT team found Applegate dead inside.
That was January. Krista has been staying with her parents in Montana since her husband's suicide. She still can't talk about what happened that morning.
"He was such a good person. I can't tell you how good of a person he was," she said. "I wish I could have asked more questions, tried to dig deeper when he said he didn't want to talk. If I could just go back. I want him to feel better. I'm just so sad that he hurt so bad. I'm so sad for all the things that we don't get to do."
One thing Applegate's family should be allowed to do is to be acknowledged, just like the others who sacrificed all. Wednesday's ceremony would be a good start.