Sunday, November 2, 2014

Issac Sims said of the Army, "This is my tribe. I'm never leaving."

Army Sgt. Issac Sims left the war in Iraq, but it didn’t leave him
Stars and Stripes
By Martin Kuz
Published: November 2, 2014
At graduation from basic training in 2007, Issac Sims said of the Army, "This is my tribe. I'm never leaving." Six years later, he was discharged after serving two tours in Iraq, where he sustained a traumatic brain injury in 2010.
Part one of a four-part series

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The tattered brown house on Lawndale Avenue bears the scars of a distant war that Issac Sims survived until he returned home. Slivers of glass from broken windows lie beneath walls pocked with bullet holes. In a corner of the garage, a faint stain on the concrete floor has turned the color of rust, time darkening the blood that emptied from his body.

Sims was killed here May 25, Memorial Day weekend, a year after his discharge from the Army and thousands of miles from Iraq. He endured two tours there only to die at age 26 in his parents’ home on Kansas City’s decaying east side. The fatal shots were fired not by insurgents but by police. The distinction may have eluded his damaged mind.

During his second tour in 2010, Sims sustained a mild traumatic brain injury while riding in an armored vehicle that struck a roadside bomb. The former sergeant moved back to Kansas City from his unit’s base in Alaska in April last year, and struggling with migraines, insomnia, anxiety and depression, he visited the city’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center. His symptoms suggested post-traumatic stress disorder.

His erratic behavior made clear to Patricia and Shawn Sims that their son had left the war without the war leaving him. He swerved through traffic when driving to avoid bombs that he imagined were buried in the road. Walking the tree line near their property, he searched for enemy fighting positions and threw punches at phantom militants. He sometimes rushed into the house and announced, “You know I just saved your lives, don’t you?”
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