Sunday, March 11, 2007

Perspective: Straining to keep a promise

Jeffrey Lennon in Iraq

Jeffrey Lennon returned from Iraq to his hometown of Plymouth a broken man. Soon enough, he would also be a very angry man.

A sergeant in the US Army Reserve, Lennon was racked by nightmare visions of fellow soldiers and Iraqi civilians killed during his tour of duty. Almost anything could trigger the memories, particularly smells of garbage and gasoline that steer his mind back to the roads of Iraq.

He abandoned his dream of being a police officer. He took refuge in alcohol. He contemplated suicide.

And he waited, and waited, for the Department of Veterans Affairs to help him make his way back.

Diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder in March 2004, it may take months, he said, to get an appointment for mental health counseling at the VA Medical Center in Brockton because of staffing shortages. It took more than a year before he began receiving his $348 monthly check for partial disability.

Read the rest at the Boston Globe