Military Unit, Ravaged by War, Regroups Back Home to Survive the Peace
The Wall Street Journal
By Ben Kesling
July 14, 2019
“Derek, Grant, Timmy—all those guys died at their own hands,” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Musil, listing close friends from Bravo Company and other units he served in who had killed themselves. “All those men were warriors. If they can do it, what’s stopping me?”
Veterans at the reunion talk about their experiences since returning from deployment to Afghanistan. PHOTO: TRAVIS DOVE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNALSuicides drive Bravo Company veterans to test whether reuniting will help overcome lingering effects of battle
Nearly a year ago, the combat-hardened paratroopers of Bravo Company realized things were getting too dangerous. They weren’t working as a team. Too many men were dying. Nobody seemed to know how to stop the bloodletting.
And that was a decade after they got home from war.
During an 11-month tour of Afghanistan’s notorious Arghandab Valley, three soldiers from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment were killed in action and a dozen more lost at least one leg or arm. In the 10 years since they returned to the U.S., two B Company soldiers—isolated from their buddies, struggling with their demons—have killed themselves, more than a dozen have tried and others admit they have considered it.
“I didn’t think I deserved to get help,” Jason Horton confessed to the group over a microphone in a conference room. It’s hard to find help in a system as large as the VA, he said. He found it helpful to talk one-on-one with someone who experienced the same trauma he did. “It’s a big sea, and it’s hard to swim in that sea,” he said.
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