I received this email this morning. The name of the suicide victim I have chosen not to use out of respect for him and his family. He was a friend of Elliot, who I interviewed for “When Yellow Ribbons Aren’t Enough.”
Ten years ago an 18 year old from the heartland of our country, after hearing about the attacks of 9/11 volunteered to join the United States Marines. His girlfriend said she’d wait for him, his family said they were proud of him and his country said they needed him. Sam M. wore his uniform with pride and served 4 tours in the Middle East. He did what was told of him. He fought hard and long. While on leave from Iraq he went home and married his childhood sweetheart. He was in Afghanistan when his son was born.
Several months ago, his combat brother Elliott suggested Sam M. talk to me after having met him. Elliott told Sam M. that he too had seen the horrors of war. He too had tried to numb up his feelings to what he had experienced and he too had considered suicide. I went to the halfway house Mike was living in at that time to meet him.
Sam M. told me about his drinking and how his wife had taken their child and left him. She told him that he wasn’t the boy she fell in love with anymore and he wasn’t the man she married. He told me about the problems he created with his drinking and how the Marines tried to help him by sending him to an Alcohol Treatment Program. He said his continued drinking resulted in his being booted out of the Marines; the only way of life he knew and loved.
“I’m a trained killer,” Sam M. told me, “and there isn’t any need for my type in civilian life. I don’t know how to do anything else and I don’t want to do anything else.”
I told Sam M. about resources and things available to him, but he said he wanted nothing to do with any of it. He wanted to be a Marine and he wanted to have his wife and son back. Mike said he was told that neither of those things would ever happen. Mike rejected my offers. He requested that I stop trying to meet and talk to him.
The last time I saw him was when he told me to leave him alone as he turned and walked back into the House of Many Nations off of Blue Angel Boulevard. Later he sent word for me to stop calling him. Sam M. said I was a nuisance.
On October 3ed, 2011, at age 28 Sam M. committed suicide and became a statistic. He joined over 6,000 other service men and women who choose to die rather than live with what they experienced in America’s longest war in history. More who have worn the uniform in this past decade has died of suicide that has died on the battlefield.
His friends and family will miss him. I now have another scar in my heart.