A former United States Marine took his life after holding his family of five hostage early Tuesday morning. Friends said the veteran was struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Channel 3 Eyewitness News looked into the disorder that studies show affects 20 percent of recently-deployed soldiers.
Sadly, that number is only expected to grow as our service members return from war.
The battles don't end overseas and continue during the tough adjustment back to civilian life.
"They tend to be very serious," Navy veteran Vincent Marotta said. "They tend to be very angry."
The sometimes nasty side of a hero's return was made evident in Waterford early Tuesday morning when 31-year-old Justin Eldridge killed himself at his Great Neck Road home after a police standoff. His four children were in the home when the event occurred.
In an interview with the Waterford Patch last year, Eldridge's wife Joanna confirmed he was struggling with PTSD, but refused to give up on him.
"I love him," she told the Patch. "There's something wrong with him. I'm going to help him. If we turn our backs on veterans, what good does that do anyone?"
Eldridge's case was not the only one.
Last week 22-year-old veteran Colby Esthus is accused of running over his girlfriend with his truck after a violent episode. Canton police attributed the incident to a bout with PTSD last year. Army veteran Jason Durr was arrested for shooting his girlfriend.
Relatives said Durr would frequently have nightmares.
"Sometimes because they're ashamed or they don't know where to go," Marotta said. "You won't seer it outright."
As the amount of returning troops rise, the VA Hospital in West Haven said it was preparing for more PTSD cases by expanding PTSD programs and extending it operating hours.
"The more it's being addressed, the more information they'll gather and learn about it, the more opportunities they'll give the veterans to go there," Peter Galgano said.
Galgano is the Veteran Outreach Coordinator at Middlesex Community College in Middletown and said he was satisfied with the amount being done on a national and local level, but warns of the frightening reality that lies ahead.
"It's an uphill battle," he said. "There's going to be that many more veterans coming home at once."
If you know a veteran struggling with PTSD, call the Veteran's Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.
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