A 30-year-old Iraq War veteran took his life on June 10, 2013, leaving behind a compelling suicide note expressing his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and his lack of support from the government and agents of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
According to CNN, "Daniel Somers was a sergeant in an intelligence unit, where he ran 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee."
As CNN reports, Somers was "diagnosed with PTSD, a brain injury, Gulf War syndrome, fibromyalgia, and a host of other medical problems in 2008, one year after the end of his second deployment."
In his suicide note, he states: "I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you."
Somers further elaborates, "My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure."
Somers and his family share their deep disappointment with how the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) failed to provide him with the medical and psychiatric treatment necessary in a timely manner (CNN).
Dr. Joseph Boscarino, a senior scientist with the Geisinger Health Center in Pennsylvania who specializes in PTSD and military suicide research tells CNN, "VA resources are better than they have ever been."
He further states, "Could it be better? Yes. It's government, so it's not going to be perfect."
Perfection is not what Somers and his family were expecting. They were searching for help from an institution that claims to support their veterans psychologically, medically, and economically. In this particular situation, the DEA and government failed in all three areas.
In his devastating note, Somers communicates his vexation:
"Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day."
This statistic is supported by the VA releasing findings of a study revealing 22 U.S. military veterans commit suicide every day.
To this, Somers includes in his note:
"Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn't the president standing with those families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference."
A tragic story transformed into a powerful message concerning the palpable lack of medical, economic, and psychiatric support from the institutions believed to respect and care for their veterans. The viral exposure of this suicide note aims to influence the policy initiatives of these governmental bodies in order to better serve those who decide to serve them.