Today is the anniversary of worldwide protests against the invasion of Iraq. On February 15, 2003 millions of people all over the world (including my daughter in New York) took to the streets in protest of what they knew would result in hell on earth for American and coalition troops as well as innocent Iraqi citizens.
They were right, though no one could have foreseen just how much hell was unleashed by those bombers strafing Baghdad.
Here's the story of one man's personal hell. Sadly, it could have been avoided.
STEWART, Minn. -- It took two years of hell to convince him, but finally Jonathan Schulze was ready.
On the morning of Jan. 11, Jonathan, an Iraq war veteran with two Purple Hearts, neatly packed his US Marine Corps duffel bag with his sharply creased clothes, a framed photo of his new baby girl, and a leather-bound Bible and headed out from the family farm for a 75-mile drive to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Cloud, Minn.
Family and friends had convinced him at last that the devastating mental wounds he brought home from war, wounds that triggered severe depression, violent outbursts, and eventually an uncontrollable desire to kill himself, could not be drowned in alcohol or treated with the array of antianxiety drugs he'd been prescribed.
And so, with his father and stepmother at his side, he confessed to an intake counselor that he was suicidal. He wanted to be admitted to a psychiatric ward.
But, instead, he was told that the clinician who prescreened cases like his was unavailable. Go home and wait for a phone call tomorrow, the counselor said, as Marianne Schulze, his stepmother, describes it.
When a clinical social worker called the next day, Jonathan, 25, told again of his suicidal thoughts and other symptoms. And then, with his stepmother listening in, he learned that he was 26th on the waiting list for one of the 12 beds in the center's ward for post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers.
Four days later, on Jan. 16, he wrapped a household extension cord around his neck, tied it to a beam in the basement, and hanged himself.
Those who originally supported the war haven't done enough to support those they sent to fight it. It's easy to send soldiers off to war when you haven't been yourself, when your loved ones aren't likely to make up a recruiter's quota, when your "other priorities" include making the world safe for your energy buddies to make lots of money.
It's a lot harder to appropriate money for VA mental health wards in the U.S., especially when your mind's in Iran, on that next war you want to fight. (You and whose troops?)
Maybe it's time for another protest.