The Casualties of War…Coming Home

“Before the murders started, Anthony Marquez’s mom dialed his sergeant at Fort Carson to warn that her son was poised to kill.

It was February 2006, and the 21-year-old soldier had not been the same since being wounded and coming home from Iraq eight months before. He had violent outbursts and thrashing nightmares. He was devouring pain pills and drinking too much.

He always packed a gun.

‘It was a dangerous combination. I told them he was a walking time bomb,’ said his mother, Teresa Hernandez.

His sergeant told her there was nothing he could do. Then, she said, he started taunting her son, saying things like, ‘Your mommy called. She says you are going crazy.’

Eight months later, the time bomb exploded when her son used a stun gun to repeatedly shock a small-time drug dealer in Widefield over an ounce of marijuana, then shot him through the heart.”

So begins “The Casualties of War,” by Dave Philipps, which appeared recently in the Colorado Gazette

It was forwarded to me by my old friend David Addlestone, who founded the National Veterans Legal Services Program in Washington, DC and led it for many years, until stepping down in 2008.  Addlestone – whom the American Bar Association called “a Human Rights Hero…who dedicated his entire professional career to vindicating the rights of the often scorned warriors…” has fought for veterans’ legal rights for decades, going back to the Vietnam era.

So it’s no surprise that he would be calling attention to this latest human rights tragedy underway regarding the mental health of our returning veterans and the behavior their psychological condition provokes.

Philipps’ article documents chilling accounts of the emotional damage suffered by many vets, often leading to violence, murder and self-destructive behavior – both while on duty and especially after the vets return to “normalcy.”  Unfortunately the military appears to not take very seriously — and even eggs on, in some cases — the mental traumas that the returning soldiers bring with them.  See the rest of Philipps article at

Our elected officials and our institutions need to address this, perhaps with a war-to-peace transition program that could provide the psychological help these men and women need, as well as ways to reintegrate into civil society. The danger of inaction or inadequate help lies in reinforcing their sense of isolation, misunderstanding and perceived dangers – to which the only responseis to attack and kill, for self-preservation.