Monday, December 15, 2008

When will we honor all deaths of our warriors?

by Chaplain Kathie

When they die after vehicle accidents deployed into Iraq or Afghanistan, they are not really honored. The military says, it was just an accident. When they die from being transported, as in the case below, with a helicopter crash, again, it was just an accident. When they die because of the wound of PTSD that followed them home, they are not counted among those to be honored. We never did get that right.

While it would go a long way in eliminating the stigma of PTSD by honoring all of them, most of their names are buried as "death under investigation" and the families remain silent, believing they have something to be ashamed of. While researching the suicide video I created (now available by mail or in a Power Point form on my web site I found over 800 of their stories, but could only find a little over a hundred cases of confirmed suicides when the families spoke out. They knew the only thing to be ashamed of was that their sons and daughters did not get the treatment needed to stay alive.

The non-combat deaths are treated as if they would have died anyway from illnesses, (even though the illnesses were caused by deployment and exposures to environmental hazards like depleted uranium and the exposure to burn pit fumes along with drinking contaminated water) heart attacks brought on by stress, physical reactions to inoculations and medications, but the most telling statement of all is when they commit suicide because of PTSD. Even if we found all the names of the men and women that took their own lives, we still would not know all of them simply because some of the car crashes and motorcycle accidents are due to PTSD.

It is the opinion of the majority in this nation that if they are deployed into a combat zone and die while in the line of duty, they should be treated as if they died by the enemies' hand. They did their duty and did what was asked of them and the last thing we can do for them is to honor the lives lost equally, not ignore the fact that they were risking their lives for the sake of the rest of us.

While some will point out that Iraq had nothing to do with our security and evidence has shown this is a true statement, no one can argue the reason they served. They can only argue the reason they were sent. So push that out of your mind when it comes to them.

Lance Cpl. Darrell J. Schumann died with 30 others but they are not considered killed in action even though they died doing their duty.

When will we honor all deaths of our warriors?
Father wants son's name on memorial
Daily Press - Newport News,VA,USA

It was the greatest loss of life for the Marine Corps since the 1983 bombing of a barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, according to The Associated Press. But you won't see Darrell's name on the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond because the nature of his death doesn't qualify him to be recognized there.

A Hampton Marine's death in a 2005 helicopter crash in Iraq isn't considered a result of hostile action.
December 14, 2008
HAMPTON - — Rick Schumann's son, Darrell, was a heavy machine gunner in the Marine Corps who fought house-by-house street battles during the last months of 2004 in the rebel territory of Fallujah, Iraq.

In January 2005, his unit was scheduled to secure the Syrian-Iraqi border for the coming election in Iraq. After that, Lance Cpl. Darrell J. Schumann was scheduled to come home. In the early morning of Jan. 26, Schumann was with 29 Marines and a Navy medic who boarded a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter that took flight in the dark of night toward the Syrian border.

They never arrived.

The helicopter flew into a sandstorm and crashed, killing all 31 aboard — including Schumann, a former Colonial Williamsburg employee and student at Thomas Nelson Community College. He planned to return to Hampton when he finished his service with the Marines.

'Only died in accident'

In April of this year, Rick Schumann attended a bill signing at the memorial, which is a series of glass and concrete panels on a hill overlooking the James River in Richmond. Several state delegates were there, and so were "gold star" parents whose children have died in war.

Schumann looked at a list of names to be added to the memorial during an expansion in the next two years. He saw that Darrell's wasn't on the list and asked an employee why his son wasn't included. The employee directed him to the memorial's executive director, Jon C. Hatfield. Schumann said he showed Hatfield a copy of the Department of Defense-issued death certificate for his son.

Hatfield looked at the certificate, and "he said, 'He only died in an accident. It's wasn't like he was killed in action,'" Schumann recalled of his interaction with Hatfield.
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