As discussed in the previous post, a man facing DUI manslaughter charges plans to plead guilty by reason of insanity. The man’s lawyer claims that his client suffered a dissociative episode and blackout on the night that he hit another car head on while drunk, and the DUI accident was caused by the man’s untreated post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, anxiety and dizzy spells. Sometimes a veteran will self-medicate through substance abuse if they do not receive medical help.
The 38-year-old man who caused the accident was suffering from PTSD and the brain injury after four deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He earned three Purple Hearts for injuries and one Bronze Star for heroism. He was always sent back to war, but was eventually sent home to the U.S. after suffering a brain injury. After he was considered recovered, he was sent not to Afghanistan again but to Florida. This is where the DUI accident occurred.
The Marines have actually looked into the case extensively and have acknowledged that they failed to get this veteran the help he needed in time. An 860-page report written by investigators for the Marines recommends that the Marine Corps do more to proactively diagnose and treat PTSD, rather than wait for soldiers to self-diagnose themselves and seek help.
This is particularly important when the Marine with PTSD also has a brain injury. The Marines acknowledged that someone with the “invisible wounds” of a brain injury and PTSD are just as injured as someone with physical wounds, but may not be able to diagnose themselves and need help.
Source: Tampa Bay Online, “War wounds complicate Marine’s Tampa DUI manslaughter case,” Associated Press, Sept. 26, 2011