Thursday, June 5, 2008

Major Lance Waldorf, suicide spotlights toll of repeated deployments

Army Reservist Lance Waldorf totes a child while serving in Afghanistan in 2004. The financial consultant was expecting orders for a third tour. (Waldorf family photo)

Michigan veteran's suicide spotlights toll of repeated deployments
Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News
HOLLY TOWNSHIP -- Lana Waldorf took calls from concerned family and friends Wednesday evening and tried to make sense of her husband's apparent suicide in a military cemetery in Oakland County.

Lance Waldorf, a 40-year-old major in the U.S. Army Reserve and a resident of Bingham Farms, was found dead Monday afternoon of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Township.

"The war had a great deal to do with this," said Lana Waldorf, about her husband's death.

Waldorf said her husband suffered from post-traumatic stress and increasing depression after returning home from serving as a civil affairs specialist in Afghanistan.

"He had nightmares," she said. "He didn't tell me the details. What husband wants to share the horrific ordeals of war with his wife?"

Lana Waldorf, 51, said she alerted authorities after finding a note from her husband. His body was found shortly afterward at the cemetery. He was wearing military fatigues; a handgun was found nearby.

Authorities also found a note, a will, a backpack and photographs of Waldorf with his wife as well as family and friends, said Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Gary Muir.

Waldorf, a chartered financial consultant for Merrill Lynch, served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and was expecting orders for a third deployment. He returned home in March 2007 from his last assignment in Ghazni, Afghanistan, as a part of the 414th Battalion, a unit from Southfield.

She said she only learned the severity of her husband's depression from post-traumatic stress when she discovered a document on their printer referring to an appointment at a Veterans Administration hospital.
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  1. I am deeply saddened to hear of Major Waldorf's death. I remember Lance fondly from a different kind of tour - a Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps tour some 25 years ago when we were both kids. I now work in mental health and know how devastating depression and PTSD are. It is deeply distressing that anyone is exposed to the horrors of war and shameful that better support and mental health services are not made available.
    My condolences to the Waldorf family.

  2. It is very hard to read these stories but because of families coming forward to tell them, we are closer to saving more lives. When Vietnam veterans came home, they were, and still are, committing suicide, but no one knew about them. No one was talking. Everyone was suffering in silence, ashamed of what was happening, instead of being told there was a reason for it, a name to it and ways to heal from it. Thank you for getting into the work needed to help them heal. It is one of the hardest jobs to take but the rewards of helping these men and women cannot be measured.


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