This is absolutely heartbreaking.
The rules for awarding the Purple Heart should be changed to include Joseph Patrick Dwyer and every soldier suffering from PTSD; how can having your mental health damaged by a war not constitute an injury?
(Via Susie, who aptly titled her post.)
Update, 07/21/08, 1:15 AM
The Associated Press has an in-depth piece about Dwyer’s life, his illness, and his death. It’s a very, very tough read, filled with details I’m not sure I’d want friends, family, and the general public to know if the story was about me. Maybe the article can help someone who is in the same situation, or a similar one.
I found this section of the story particularly gut-wrenching:
Like many, Dwyer joined the military in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
In 2002, Dwyer was sent to Fort Bliss, Texas. The jokester immediately fell in with three colleagues — Angela Minor, Sgt. Jose Salazar, and [Dionne] Knapp. They spent so much time together after work that comrades referred to them as “The Four Musketeers.”
Knapp had two young children and was going through a messy divorce. Dwyer stepped in as a surrogate dad, showing up in uniform at her son Justin’s kindergarten and coming by the house to assemble toys that Knapp couldn’t figure out.
When it became clear that the U.S. would invade Iraq, Knapp became distraught, confiding to Dwyer that she would rather disobey her deployment orders than leave her kids.
Dwyer asked to go in her place. When she protested, he insisted: “Trust me, this is what I want to do. I want to go.” After a week of nagging, his superiors relented.
Dwyer was one helluva guy, wasn’t he?
Ultimately I have to ask, “Where was the Veteran’s Administration?” And how many more Joseph Patrick Dwyers will it take before a seriously funded and mandated effort is made to help men and women and their families prevent another tragedy like this one?