Wrecking Ball Effect of Military Suicides Leaves Destructive Path Among Families and Friends Left Behind

Playmate at his side, 4-year-old Jayden Chrzanowski (right) runs to his father’s gravesite in Elwood, Ill. Jayden’s father, Army Spc. John Chrzanowski, died July 22, 2011, after coming home from a violent combat tour in Iraq. John, 22, shot himself inside a spare room at his mother’s Hammond home where he was living. Friends and family said John’s war experience followed him home and haunted him, reporting frequent and violent sleep disturbances where John would wake suddenly believing he was still in battle. (Jonathan Miano / The Times)

VICTIMS OF WAR: Hammond Man Among Growing Number of Military Suicides

by Vanessa Renderman

NWI.com, July 21, 2012

HAMMOND | Army Spc. John Chrzanowski escaped sniper fire and the threat of roadside bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and countless hazards of war in Iraq.

But those near-misses and his role in the fighting followed the 22-year-old home. They terrorized his sleep and haunted his conscience, especially when he had too much to drink, family and friends said.

On July 7, 2011, jolted by nightmares, Chrzanowski turned a gun on himself in his Hammond home.

Spc. John Chrzanowski


Since 2010, suicide has been the second leading cause of death among American service members, exceeded only by war injury. Most active duty service members who die by suicide never deployed, according to a recent report released by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center.

“Suicide among military members is thought to be an impulsive act triggered by one or multiple stressors such as relationship breakups, legal/disciplinary problems, financial difficulties or physical health problems,” it states.

From 1998 through 2011, 2,990 service members committed suicide while on active duty. Firearms were the most frequently used method, according to the report.

Chrzanowski’s mother, Linda Chrzanowski, did not see any signs. If her son was struggling, it was behind closed doors so he would not upset her.

“I never saw a tear,” she said. “He sheltered me from (his) pain.”
A former girlfriend of her son later mentioned he sometimes cried. Or he would wake up and think he was in battle.

“He told some stories to some friends,” his mother said. “He never talked about counseling.”

His mother wants changes. She wants the military to open its eyes and address the culture that views counseling as weakness.

Read the rest of this story and view the photographs:

http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hammond/victims-of-war-hammond-man-among-growing-number-of-military/article_fbf9601b-5dd0-553c-b9c8-1493b35e4afe.html

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