For a long time I haven't been able to talk out loud about my little brother. The truth is, I couldn't even speak of him without crying. I didn't know what to say, or how to stay it, and so, I just didn't. I've sat down to write his story so many times and every time I would get hung up on the fact that it wasn't really my story to tell, and delete the whole post.
Terry was diagnosed with PTSD before he was honorably discharged, after serving a four year term in the Army. He was very symptomatic. He was disabled at 70% due to PTSD in 2013.
In the seven years since his separation, his mental health has decreased at an impossible rate. The last three years have been exceedingly hard on our family.
In his sickness, my brother demanded that we not talk about him. He told me once to forget he ever existed and to move on. It's so hard because nothing I write here could ever be enough of an explanation. Our silence about him and his condition was done out of love. We felt we were giving him what he needed: time to heal, on his own terms. In reality we should have been fighting with him, for him, more.
On February 5th, 2016, my brother was found hanged in his kitchen. Less than one week after being released from a VA Behavioral Health Inpatient facility, alone. Exactly one week after the social worker in that hospital dismissed my mothers concerns for his follow up care and told my mother that they had a "care plan" and she needed to let them "do their job." Six days from being sent home alone, ON A SHUTTLE BUS, with a piece of paper labeled "care plan" on which he stated he would call "NO ONE" if he was feeling bad. A paper that also stated his PTSD disability, his severe depression, suicidal state, and anxiety, that was also signed by THREE DIFFERENT MENTAL HEALTH EMPLOYEES.
He went home alone with that stupid piece of paper, that "care plan",
and he hung himself.
My brother. A son. An uncle. A cousin. A friend. A VETERAN OF TWO WARS. Someone who was more loved by so many people than he even understood or could grasp.
I may not have understood. I may have been silent then, I may have been too scared to talk about him before, but I'm not scared any more.
Now, I'm just PISSED OFF.