Dying faces, body bags: How trauma hits a US unit

“— More than half a year after one of the deadliest battles ever waged by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the men of Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry are still fighting in — and with — their memories.

Sgt. Daniel Rodriguez, 22, of Stafford, Va., with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry, was awarded Silver Star for his actions in one of the deadliest battles ever waged by U.S. forces on Oct. 3, 2009 when hundreds of insurgents attacked their combat outpost "Keating" in eastern Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

“They cannot forget Oct. 3, 2009. On that day, 300 insurgents attacked two outposts in eastern Afghanistan manned by 72 soldiers, sparking a 12-hour fight. By nightfall, eight U.S. soldiers were dead. Three days later, the outposts were closed.

Like so many of their comrades, they suffer from mental trauma. Nearly 20 percent of the 1.6 million troops who had returned from Iraq and Afghanistan reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress or major depression, according to a 2008 study by Rand Corp.

Only slightly more than half of those sought treatment.

Sgt. Daniel Rodriguez sees the face of a dying soldier when he tries to sleep.

“There’s not a night that I go to sleep that I don’t think about it,” says Rodriguez, 22. “He was speechless. His eyes were open like he was trying to tell me something and it didn’t come out. And he was gurgling. And I’m trying to pull him in and it just isn’t happening, and it kicks in that there’s nothing I can do for my friend.”


, , ,

Comments are closed.