Marine with PTSD fights DWI charge
A Marine captain who served four tours of combat duty and suffered serious head injuries had been charged with DWI. While the case does not arise in North Carolina, the issues involved in the case are receiving national attention. The Marine captain was allegedly involved in a fatal drunk driving accident in April and now vehicular manslaughter charges in Florida.
The Marine was scheduled for trial earlier this month on the allegations that he was involved in the fatal drunk driving crash, however, that trial has been delayed as the evidence mounts that the Marine suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Marine captain is seeking to defend against the vehicular manslaughter charges based upon his PTSD.
The combat veteran earned three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star during at least four tours of duty with the Marine Corps. He witnessed many deaths while serving his country overseas, nearly died from blood loss during combat, suffered head trauma and once dug a mass grave for civilians in Iraq.
The DWI defense includes evidence that the 38-year-old marine was having a “dissociative episode” at the time of the fatal car accident and that the Marine believed he was on military deployment at the time of the crash. A psychologist who specializes in PTSD says blackouts, or dissociative episodes are common for those who suffer from PTSD.
Marine officials wrote an 860-page report on the Marine. The report acknowledges that the Marine Corps should have been more thorough in evaluating the captain’s condition before the accident occurred. The Marine was evaluated after he suffered serious injury in a rocket attack in Iraq in 2009. Rescuers who first arrived at the blast site believed the Marine was dead.
The Marine’s direct Command believed he may have been suffering from PTSD after the attack. He was given an assessment and cleared for full duty. The Marine continued to show symptoms of PTSD after being cleared, but wanted to return to his battalion in Afghanistan. Instead he was ordered to serve at MacDill Air Force Base. Two days after arriving in the state, and before he was to report at the base, the accident occurred, according to news reports.
The 860-page Marine Corps report says the choice to send the captain to MacDill “left him feeling disappointed and abandoned, and exacerbated the symptoms of his PTSD.”
Source: AP via ABC News, “Marine Claims Brain Trauma Led to Fatal DUI Crash,” Tamara Lush, Sept. 23, 2011