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May 23, 2008

Remembering the other veterans

This weekend is one in which we tend to remember all the uplifting, inspiring stories of veterans and current soldiers and the sacrifices they have and are making for our freedom. And well we should remember them. But let us also remember that casualties of war don't always happen on the battlefield -- that even the soldiers who come home alive and seemingly whole may still be haunted by horrid memories of war, memories that prohibit them from achieving a "normal" life again.

"Tom Ricks's Inbox," from the Washington Post, is one of my favorite regular columns. Ricks offers an unsugarcoated view inside the military. This past Sunday's entry was heartbreaking -- and reason to pray harder for all soldiers and the families who support them when they come home, filled with memories of darkness we cannot imagine: things they saw, things done to them, things they have done.

Last January, this feature carried an excerpt from an article in the Marine Corps Gazette by Marine Staff Sgt. Travis N. Twiggs, detailing his struggle with the post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from one tour of duty in Afghanistan and three in Iraq. Twiggs pulled no punches about his "psychosis," writing that he acted out combat episodes in the halls of the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center. But it concluded on what I thought was a generous, upbeat note: "[T]he PTSD is not completely gone. There can be a helicopter passing by or a loud noise or even certain words and it will remind me of the past. It's just that now I know how to deal with it. . . . "

He sounded like he was getting the help he needed. Then, on Thursday, I saw this article by the Associated Press:

2 suspects dead after police pursuit on Interstate 8


Two men who led law enforcement agents on a lengthy pursuit on Interstate 8 Wednesday morning were found dead after their car was disabled, and authorities said it appeared to be a murder-suicide.

The dead men were brothers who had been sought since they reportedly carjacked a couple and took their white Dodge sedan at the Grand Canyon on Monday night, said Pinal County Sheriff's spokesman Mike Minter.

Minter said officers approaching the white Dodge Caliber after it was disabled by spike strips heard gunshots and later confirmed both died of bullet wounds. No officers fired or were hurt.

"It appears one man in the vehicle shot the other guy and then turned the weapon on himself," Minter said.

Minter said the men were identified as Travis N. "T-Bo" Twiggs, 36, and Willard J. "Will" Twiggs, 38.

Read more, and realize, as Ricks said, this is not about "blaming anyone. I'm just sorry for Staff Sgt. Twiggs and his family." Pray for the Twiggs family -- and all those affected by PTSD.

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