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Military, VA Confront Rising Suicide Rates Among Troops

The Army says that suicides among active duty personnel have doubled in recent years, and multiple deployments might contribute to that increase. NewsHour correspondent Betty Ann Bowser reports.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Finally tonight, suicides in the military. NewsHour correspondent Betty Ann Bowser reports for our Health Unit, a partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER, NewsHour Correspondent:

    By most accounts, specialist Scott Eiswert was a happy, outgoing father of three when he was deployed to Iraq in 2004 as a driver for the Tennessee Army National Guard.

    TRACY EISWERT, Widow of Iraq Veteran: Before he went, oh, my gosh, he was fun, and caring, and giving, and loved people. He was just a big kid.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    But during his one year in the war zone, he experienced a lot of stress. There were close calls with roadside bombs. On one occasion, he saw three of his friends blown up.

  • TRACY EISWERT:

    I was not prepared for the man that came home. No one told me what to prepare for, what to look for. No one said he would be different. No one said he'd be angry. Nobody told me how different he would be when he got home.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    When Eiswert came home in December of 2005, he was different, radically different.

  • TRACY EISWERT:

    He was very angry. One of the girls said, "I want my daddy back." That hurt him really, really bad. They said, "You're not my daddy."

    I remember one time when I had went to work, and the girls had called me, and they had locked themselves in their room, they were so afraid of him. He was just screaming; he was always screaming once he got home.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    And there were constant nightmares.

  • TRACY EISWERT:

    About him dying a lot of times. That's what they were about, were grenades or bombs and roadsides, and people being dead. It was always about people being dead. You know, months before his death, he would tell me, he goes, "I feel like there's dead people around me all the time."