Rest in peace PFC. Dwyer

“Not everyone who lost his life during the Iraq war died there. Not everyone who came home from Iraq ever left there.” RIP Pfc. Dwyer
PTSD Not all wounds are visible…

Pfc. Joseph Dwyer, runs while carrying a young Iraqi boy who was injured during a heavy battle between the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry Regiment and Iraqi forces near the village of Al Faysaliyah, Iraq.

After his return home when people would teasingly call Dwyer a “war hero” and ask him to tell about his experiences, or about the famous photo, Dwyer would steer the conversation toward the others he’d served with. He once confided that another image, also involving a child, disturbed him.

He was standing next to a soldier during a firefight when a boy rode up on a bicycle and stopped beside a weapon lying in the dirt. Under his breath, the soldier beside Dwyer whispered, “Don’t pick it up, kid. Don’t pick it up.”

The boy reached for the weapon and was blasted off his bike.

In spring 2004, suffering from PTSD Dwyer was prescribed antidepressants and referred for counseling. But his behavior only got worse. One day, he swerved to avoid what he thought was a roadside bomb and crashed into a convenience store sign. He began answering his apartment door with a pistol in his hand and would call friends, babbling and disoriented.

Dwyer checked into an inpatient program at New York’s Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He stayed for six months. After leaving the VA unfortunately Dwyer’s PTSD increased. Some wondered why the VA couldn’t involuntarily commit Dwyer. But Dr. Antonette Zeiss, deputy chief of the VA’s Office of Mental Health, said it’s not that simple.

“Veterans are civilians, and VA is guided by state law about involuntary commitment,” she told the AP. “There are civil liberties, and VA respects that those civil liberties are important.”

Zeiss said that while caregivers must be 100 percent committed to creating an environment in which veterans feel comfortable confronting their demons, the patient must be equally committed to following through.

“And so it’s a dance between the clinicians and the patient.”

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, feels the VA is a lousy dance partner.

Dwyer eventually overdosed and died on the way to the hospital.

“I consider (Dwyer) a battlefield casualty,” he said, “because he was still fighting the war in his head.”

To all our Vets:

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