Last May, in a piece for Memorial Day, I told you about Sgt. Daniel Braun who, just the week before, had lost his battle with PTSD. Daniel was only 27 when he took his own life last spring, leaving behind a shocked and devastated family who loved him beyond measure. Daniel served with my son in Iraq, as part of 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, one of the most highly decorated and respected squadrons in the United States Air Force. These soldiers volunteered to work side by side with the Army providing security in the most dangerous areas in Iraq. Among other things, they trained Iraqi police officers, and protected children in the local schools. These young soldiers were, and are, some of the best and the brightest this country has to offer!
As a parent, I was proud of the work my son did there, proud of his service. What I am less proud of is the condition these soldiers came home in, and the treatment and service they’ve received since. Not one of us, these young soldiers included, had any idea what life would be like when they returned, accompanied by multiple medical and mental health issues, discouraged by their commanders to seek help, and unable to fully integrate back into civilian life. The battle for our family and for my son has been long and hard. The battle for Linda Braun, and her family, has been harder.
After Daniel died last May, I asked Linda to share her story with all of you. We, as Americans, as humans, and as parents, need to know the truth about war. We need to know the truth about a system that promises our children a bright future, a shining career, and then abandons them when things get rough. We need to hear the truth and Linda has been brave enough to share it with us.
IN LINDA’S WORDS~
“I’ve started this article several times before only to set the pen and paper down and tell myself it’s too soon and you’re just not ready to do this. You see, this is a story of a grieving mother with a lot of why questions. Why wasn’t there more done for him? Why was it taking it so long for the V.A. to help him? Why didn’t the doctors see what he is going through? Why does our government do this to our children? When is all this going to stop? How many more parents are going to have to lose their children before someone realizes it’s not our war to fight, it’s theirs?
This is my story. I am the mother who is still grieving. I am the mother who lost her son to PTSD. I am the mother with all the unanswered questions. My son Daniel lost his battle to PTSD on May 15th, 2013, five days before his birthday. Instead of celebrating with him, I was making arrangements for his funeral. Daniel served 9 yrs., 3 months, and 13 days in the United States Air Force, Security Forces. He did 1 tour in South Korea and 2 tours in Iraq. He was hand chosen along with 12 other brave men to for a special security forces mission. He loved serving our country. There were times when people would thank him for his service and he would reply “don’t thank me; I’m just doing my job just like everyone else does their job.”
Every time Daniel came back from a deployment, he was a little different. This last time was the worse. He suffered from his TBI (traumatic brain injury), PTSD, anxiety, and depression, and very, very bad nightmares. There were times he would stay awake and not sleep because he just couldn’t stand reliving the nightmares of his combat days. Daniel tried to get help, only to get pushed from one doctor to another.
He was given an honorable medical discharge in November of 2012. I honestly thought things were going to start looking better for him then. It didn’t, things got worse. Because of his PTSD it was hard to find a job and once he did find one, it was hard for him to keep it. His depression got worse, the nightmares were coming back more often. The anxiety was taking over. There were days he wouldn’t even get out of bed. He tried to get into the V.A. but there was a waiting list a mile long. His battle was getting the best of him.
On May 15, 2013, Daniel just couldn’t take it anymore. He decided it was time.
I guess I want to just say it’s time for our government to start taking care of our children and stop helping others first. These are our sons, daughters, spouses, mothers and fathers giving up their lives for our freedom, only to be told “sorry there’s nothing we can do for you right now.” I say, let’s help our men and women first. Give our veterans what they need and help them. Bring our military men and women home safely and let them fight their own wars. I am a mother who will never get to hold her son in her arms again or see his smiling face. I can never tell him again how proud I am to be his mother and him my son. I ask each and every one of you who is suffering from some kind of combat issue, whether it be PTSD, depression, anxiety, or nightmares to ask for help and don’t stop asking until you get it. You deserve it, you earned it. Daniel deserved it, he earned it. Your life is too precious. People do care, I care. Thank you to all the military men and women out there who are serving and who have served for my freedom. God Bless.”
Thank you Linda.
If you are a veteran struggling right now, I’d like you remember that there are those of us who do care, that there really is good in the world, and if you hang on long enough, you’ll find it. Please don’t give up yet, we aren’t giving up on you.
If you are a veteran in crisis, or the family member of a veteran in crisis, please call the Veteran’s Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255.