Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Alabama Paper Reports Yet Another Iraq Vet Suicide -- With Mother Watching

By Greg Mitchell Published: May 06, 2008 9:30 PM ET updated Tuesday

NEW YORK As the scandal of suicide attempts by Iraq veterans expands -- in the face of Veterans Administration denials -- another horrific case has emerged, once again only gaining attention because of a local newspaper.

E&P has been tracking these accounts for almost five years and only recently has the problem, with an estimated 1,000 attempts a month now reported, gained wide media, and official, attention.

The latest story came Saturday in a story by Patrick McCreless in The Cullman Times of Cullman, Ala.

The headline is similar to so many others lately: "Family pushing for changes after soldier's suicide."

It tells how one Dorothy Screws "witnessed her only son, U.S. Army Pvt. Tommie Edward Jones, commit suicide right before her eyes six weeks ago in Colorado.

She says the Army, which promised to be there for Screws and her family to deal with the loss, has yet to provide assistance.

"Now Screws can hardly do her job without breaking down. Just the simple act of living is a challenge."

Only the memory of her son keeps Screws going as she fights to ensure another parent does not have to live through the same tragedy. 'I can’t save my son now ... I want to save somebody,' Screws said with tears in her eyes.

'If I can save one soldier, it will be worth it.'"

Screws plans to petition the government for as long as it takes until a law is passed requiring soldiers to undergo some type of psychological therapy after they return from intense combat."

Her son was 27 when he died.

An excerpt follows.

The whole article is still posted at http://www.cullmantimes.com/.*

One thing Screws and her family did not know until after her son’s death — which occurred March 25 at Fort Carson, Colo. — was that Jones, 27, had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from when he fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007.

Jones mentioned a few of the traumatic events he experienced in Iraq to his mother shortly before his death.

“He said, ‘I wake up every morning angry,’” Screws said. “He said, ‘My body is here but my mind is in Iraq.’”

Screws said she wants therapy to be mandatory for soldiers because many, like her son, do not seek help out of fear of being stigmatized. She said Jones told her he did not want to talk to a therapist because he thought such action would prevent him from rising in rank.

...Jones’ sister, Amanda Wimberly, said her family was assigned an assistance officer. But Wimberly said the officer has been anything but helpful.

“I called her a few weeks ago and she was with her family ... but she could come by later if we wanted,” Wimberly said.

“We needed her then. I asked to speak to her boss. ... She fumbled with the phone and eventually hung up. I haven’t spoken to her since.”

Screws said she has already expressed her feelings about the Army and her petition for mandatory therapy to the local Democratic Party. She plans to attend an upcoming Republican Party meeting to do the same.

“I don’t care if I get in trouble,” Screws said. “Until somebody can answer some questions and make it right, oh yeah, I’ll keep talking.”

____E&P Editor Greg Mitchell's new book includes several chapters on this issue. It is titled, "So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq."

--submitted by Patti Woodard

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