THE LAST BATTLE: Joshua Eisenhauer’s Journey From Battlefield to Jail Cell
by Greg Barnes
Fayetteville Observer, Sept. 24, 2012
BLOGBACK: Various studies contradict one another when it comes to assessing the accurate rate of drug and alcohol abuse among soldiers. The rate of substance abuse reported below is about 25 percent among soldiers with PTSD. A recent Army-sponsored report from the Institute of Medicine published Sept. 17, 2012 revealed a much higher rate of substance abuse. It reported 50 percent of ALL active duty soldiers self-identified as binge drinkers. In the same IOM report, half of all problem drinkers Army-wide also reported thoughts of suicide. Binge drinking for any person prescribed benzodiazepines is extremely dangerous and is well-established as a frequent and significant factor in toxic drug overdoses within military populations.
Joshua Eisenhauer couldn’t hold on long enough to get the help the Army knew he needed.
In January, he was holed up in a Fayetteville apartment – alone, wracked with post-traumatic stress disorder and addicted to anti-anxiety medication.
His father said the Army had promised his son, a Fort Bragg staff sergeant, intensive PTSD therapy in the spring.
But by then, he was behind bars, facing charges of trying to kill Fayetteville police officers and firefighters who were just doing their jobs.
Mark Eisenhauer said his son’s actions were the result of a flashback to the war in Afghanistan. Police charged him with 15 counts of attempted murder.
Staff Sgt. Eisenhauer’s journey from the battlefield to a jail cell illustrates in the starkest manner the damage that combat can do to the psyche – and the consequences that can result. It also raises questions about the military’s ability to respond in a timely and effective way to those who most need help.
Mark Eisenhauer said his son began experiencing symptoms of PTSD during his first 15-month deployment to Afghanistan as a member of an 82nd Airborne Division quick-reaction force.
After his return from combat, his father learned, Joshua Eisenhauer began having nightmares, including one in which 500-pound bombs kept exploding around him while he was trapped on a rooftop. Mark Eisenhauer said his son was afraid to go into a Walmart, fearing crowds and loudspeakers.
The Army directives for PTSD were written for a reason. They need to be followed, or we will continue to see events like this, along with the thousands of similar events that happen every day that we don’t hear about.
— Mark Eisenhauer, referring to Fort Bragg military doctors’ alleged violations of Army PTSD treatment regulations while caring for his son, Staff Sgt. Joshua Eisenhauer.
The nightmares, aversion to loud noises and the fear of crowds are all classic symptoms of PTSD, a severe anxiety disorder triggered by a horrific event. Left untreated, PTSD can lead to long-term physiological problems.
According to studies, an estimated 25 percent of soldiers suffering from combat-related PTSD abuse drugs or alcohol.
Despite his father’s objections, Joshua Eisenhauer volunteered for a second tour to Afghanistan in 2009 because he wanted to be with the Army buddies he had trained. Like so many soldiers, Joshua Eisenhauer felt safest and happiest around his friends.
More than 30 percent of veterans diagnosed with PTSD in 2009 received a benzodiazepine prescription from VA doctors.
— Department of Veterans Affairs
He wound up at Forward Operating Base Bullard, bunking with his close friend, Staff Sgt. Ryan Mitchell. The two had known each other since 2006.
Mitchell said that on Nov. 19 of that year, an enemy vehicle carrying as much as 1,500 pounds of explosives detonated as it swerved into the base. Mitchell said he and Eisenhauer, a platoon leader, watched two of their friends die in the explosion, and then began collecting their body parts.
They had been talking to one of the dead soldiers just moments before, Mitchell said.
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Filed under: Resources Tagged: | 82nd Airborne, benzodiazepine Suicide Risk in Military, Forward Operating Base Bullard, Klonopin Benzodiazepines addiction, Mark Eisenhauer, Overdose, PTSD, Staff Sgt. Joshua Eisenhauer, Suicide prevention, Womack Army Medical Center