One was a skinny 20-year-old discharged from the Army who couldn’t shake the piercing rat-a-tat-tat reminders of combat. The other, a decorated Marine family man whose job preparing bodies of U.S. soldiers for burial had caused clammy, restless nights. Both home from duty in Iraq, they were on opposite ends of the country, but their stories have much in common, reports the Associated Press.
In Las Vegas, Matthew Sepi was on his way to get a beer, but he tucked an assault rifle inside his black trenchcoat just in case. In Lawrence, Mass., Daniel Cotnoir brought out his 12-gauge shotgun. Both pulled the trigger. Now Sepi faces murder and attempted murder charges while Cotnoir is charged with attempted murder. In the otherwise unrelated cases, family, friends and even law officers are looking to the influence of wartime horrors on the two veterans. Flashbacks, nightmares, a struggle to reconnect to an old life — these are all signs of post-traumatic stress disorder that many soldiers suffer from. The Army’s surgeon general has said 30 percent of U.S. troops surveyed have developed stress-related mental health problems just months after returning home. A New England Journal of Medicine study found almost 1 in 6 soldiers showing symptoms of mental stress. Sepi and Cotnoir both reportedly sought help. Some question whether the military is doing enough to aid soldiers.