I-Team: Veteran suffering from PTSD kills wife, self - WNEM TV 5

I-Team: Veteran suffering from PTSD kills wife, self

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

An Army veteran killed his wife and then himself. His family said his case is yet another example of the military dropping the ball on PTSD cases resulting in thousands of suicides a year.

"I, myself, am the one who found him. It's just fresh in my mind today, even though it was three years ago,” said the soldier’s mother, Marcie Parker.

She still grieves for her son and daughter-in-law.

John Parker II killed his wife before turning the gun on himself in 2014. He was a decorated combat veteran who served with honor overseas.

Marcie Parker said her son was like many other American boys growing up.

"Football was his greater sport,” she said.

John was a star player at Garber High School, but the military called his name.

After high school, John got married and they had a child.  To help raise his family he joined the U.S. Army in 2005. 

Marcie Parker said her son was a leader and before long rose from the rank of private to staff sergeant. 

His first deployment was to Iraq in 2005.  That's when Marcie Parker detected something was wrong with her son.

"One day I received a call and he was depressed. So I tried to lighten it and he said, ‘Just stop it ma, your positive talk is no longer working,’" she said.

John was deployed two more times, each one to Afghanistan.

He saw action in the Battle of Marjah, one of the bloodiest skirmishes in Afghanistan. He also made the news while serving overseas.

His mother said things kept getting worse with each deployment.

"Yes, he tried getting out of the second one. He told me that he did not want to go, and I'd tell him just be honest with them. He smiled, ‘They don't want to hear it, they tell you to suck it up,’" Marcie Parker said.

She claims the Army knew her son had PTSD and she alleged they did nothing to help him.

Eventually she received a call from John in Germany. He received an honorable discharge. She also found out later that he was on suicide watch.

Did the Army take into account John’s condition before sending him home?  Did it treat him adequately while he was still in the service? 

The I-Team took those questions to the U.S. Army to find out whether Parker's mother’s assertions were true.

A lieutenant colonel acknowledged receiving the questions via email.  After initially responding to the request in late January, the Army has not provided any information since.

After his discharge, John was treated for PTSD by the VA, primarily in Washington state. 

However, his mother said the Army should have been helping him out way before he received treatment from the Veteran’s Administration.

Copies of John's medical records detailed how he was being treated for PTSD.

According to the VA records, John had significant combat history and had lost several comrades in combat. 

John told officials the PTSD had been present for many years and he had not had any behavioral health treatment. 

One of the goals was to improve PTSD symptoms related to combat - to eliminate or reduce the negative impact trauma-related symptoms have on social, occupational and family functioning.

John's case is one of many around the nation.

More and more veterans are committing suicide, with upwards of 8,000 veterans a year.

Michigan U.S. Senator Gary Peters serves on several Senate Armed Services subcommittees. He said there needs to be more resources for veterans.

"We need to be putting even more resources into it which is why I’ve supported legislation to increase the number of psychiatrists and counselors in our VA system. Also passed legislation to make sure that our crisis hot lines that veterans can call when they're having some difficulties to make sure there's an actual person there,” Peters said.

An attack last month carried out by an Army veteran at a Fort Lauderdale Airport in which five people were killed prompted Marcie Parker to step forward to tell her son's story. 

"It's being repeated and there's a pattern,” she said.

At her home in Bay County, Marcie Parker has the urn that contains her son's remains. She flies the flag that belonged to her son alongside with her own stars and stripes.

She thinks her son and others should be treated for PTSD by the military before they are allowed to come back home and re-enter civilian life.

"When he came back from Iraq, you could see the cold black in his eyes and his father and I knew we had lost him,” Marcie Parker said. “He came back physically, but he had lost his soul.  And we need to figure out a way to bring that soul back, along with their bodies."

It should be noted that John was not afforded a military funeral due to the circumstances surrounding his death.  

The Patriot Guard did attend his graveside service, placing an American flag over his coffin and giving him a 21-gun salute. 

Three children are left behind and other family members said they're not receiving military death benefits from the Army due to John’s actions. 

Also, the U.S. Army contacted TV5 Monday and stated that even if it did have any information regarding Staff Sgt. Parker, it would be unable to speak to the soldier's medical issues due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

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