Monday, July 7, 2008

Caring For Our Own: An American Icon

Joseph Patrick Dwyer, 31, died of an apparent overdose in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. After breaking down the door to Dwyer's home, officers found him surrounded by empty cans of aerosol-gas dusters and prescription pills.

Dwyer, a private first-class medic, became an image of the Iraq war after a picture showing him carrying an injured Iraqi boy away from a fire fight ran on the front page of several newspapers in 2003, just after the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces.

"He was just never the same when he came back, because of all the things he saw," Matina Dwyer said. "He tried to seek treatment, but it didn't work."

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-Is this the government's fault? Our society's? His?
-Should military who served in wars have more mental care available to them?
-Is he responsible for his own death or do others share in the blame?
-Is he a symbol of America in more ways than one?


Aiden Tharsos said...

Is this the government's fault? Our society's? His?

What a tragedy. I think the issue may be too complicated to lay complete blame at any one person. Clearly, at the end of the day, only God knows if this man was in the frame of mind where he is responsible for his actions. One would hope that he was not, if only for the sake of where his mind would otherwise have had to be in order to take his life.

Should military who served in wars have more mental care available to them? Is he responsible for his own death or do others share in the blame?

Going to your first question, if any blame is to be had, perhaps a significant piece does belong in this question. We train people to be killers, but we don't give them the opportunity to decompress once they are home. Clearly, we have much work to do for health-care as it relates to those who have been physically injured...Walter-Reed insured this truth if nothing else. But mental health is something we don't go far enough to provide. I find it interesting that (with a few significant exceptions) even the spiritual needs of the military's forces are taken care of in what might otherwise be considered a secular aspect of our society, but not the mental dimension. Again, we don't know what was in his mind, and therefore we can't know the culpability he may have faced in his last moments, but regardless of his self-awareness and decision making, it is clear that his government failed him. Not only do we not equip our soliders with the proper armor, we don't equip them with the means to take it off.

How tragic.

misawa said...

This is so sad to hear about. I do wish our government would do more than they are currently doing, however the problem extends much deeper that that. I know of at least one case where a soldier was having problems but wouldn't report it to his superiors for fear of being permanently removed from his unit.