Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Damn It. : Soldier Made Famous By Photo Dies in Pinehurst

An Army medic whose image made the nation's front pages in the early days of the war in Iraq died in Pinehurst Saturday.

Joseph Patrick Dwyer, 31, died of an apparent overdose in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. After breaking down the door to Dwyer's home, officers found him surrounded by empty cans of aerosol-gas dusters and prescription pills.

Capt. Floyd Thomas said that police believe Dwyer accidentally overdosed on inhalants and pills. He said he didn't know if an autopsy would be performed.

Dwyer's wife, Matina, said he had sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

"He was a very good and caring person," she said. "He signed up to fight for his country. He was originally from New York. When he saw what happened with the towers (in the 9/11 terrorist attacks), he felt like it was something he had to do."

Dwyer, a private first-class medic, became an image of the Iraq war after a picture showing him carrying an injured Iraqi boy away from a fire fight ran on the front page of several newspapers in 2003, just after the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces.

"He was just never the same when he came back, because of all the things he saw," Matina Dwyer said. "He tried to seek treatment, but it didn't work."

According to a study by the RAND corporation, nearly 300,000 soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from PTSD or major depressive disorder. Only 53 percent of returning troops who met criteria for PTSD or major depression sought help from a provider: "Military servicemembers report barriers to seeking care that are associated with fears about the negative consequences of using mental health services, because of concerns over confidentiality and career issues....Many felt that seeking mental health care might cause career prospects to suffer or coworkers’ trust to decline."

Of those who had PTSD or depression and also sought treatment, only slightly over half received a
minimally adequate treatment.

It's a disgrace. This country needs to start treating warriors with PTSD as what they are: wounded. If only 53 percent of soldiers who'd taken a bullet or a piece of shrapnel had sought medical aid because the rest were afraid they'd be regarded as weak, and only half of the ones who sought aid got even minimally adequate treatment, some damn heads would be rolling, and rightly so.


Randy Johnson said...

Oh. man!

Jim Hetley said...

Business as usual. Damn near 40 years ago, still-serving and untreated PTSD victims were common enough that we had a standard method of waking any soldier in the barracks. You shake the bed and step back...

David Terrenoire said...


I remember that. The commonly held belief was that no soldier was held responsible for anything they did within 3 seconds of waking up. I don't know if that was an official regulation, but we believed it.

What is happening today is criminal. That this young medic was driven to this state should haunt America's conscious, because it sure as hell won't rob George Bush of a minute's sleep.

Bastards. Fucking bastards.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It reminds me so much of the right wing's take on abortion, let the child live but don't help it. Let the soldier fight, but don't help him afterward. We are one sick society to allow this. My brother-in-law died in exactly this way after Vietnam. 29 yrs old with a silver star and three purple hearts and enough substance issues to kill him.

Jim Hetley said...

I rather wish I could think that the majority of outrage at treatment of combat vets came from real concern about the poor grunts. Instead, I get the sense that this is a convenient weapon to bash the Admin on their home ground, and that after Bush et al have left the stage, the vets will vanish from the public conscience as well...

JD Rhoades said...

Jim: if this shit continues under an Obama administration, be assured I'll take them to task as well. Don't know if y'all noticed, but this guy is from just down the road from me.

Jim Hetley said...

Just musings from the Vietnam era, Dusty. Hell, I'm old enough to remember how the Korean vets got tossed on the dungheap. Only, back then they called PTSD "battle fatigue." Same for WWI and II.

A rose by any other name still had a lot of alcohol abuse and suicide connected with it.

David Terrenoire said...

Not only am I a veteran who had a sigificant amount of trouble readjusting, but I come from a large military family and so does my wife. My outrage over veterans' treatment goes back at least 35 years and will continue no matter who is president.

That this administration uses "support the troops" as a political cudgel, and when they need to step up on health care, the GI Bill, combat pay, stop-loss, extended tours, etc. they're conspicuously AWOL. That absence only adds fuel to my anger.

This is not bashing the administration. This is holding people accountable.

norby said...

There's another angle to consider here as well. How many of these young men and women are going to come back and try to fit in to a college atmosphere after fighting in Iraq?

A university is its own little world with its own little rules. It can be tough to settle into, even for the most well-adjusted of people. For someone with PTSD, I can't imagine the struggle they'll have. All of that, in addition to trying to live in the civilian world?

It's a disaster waiting to happen, simply because no one, not just the government, has anything in place, to help these young men and women.

Anonymous said...

First-of-all this is a very good topic about the soldier. The man Dwyer's was great and he had struggled for the war of Iraq.



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maddy said...

Really what fresh hell is this?



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