Veteran: 'You're taught in the military that you don't ask for help'
8 hours ago
By Cindy Uken
“You’re taught in the military that you don’t ask for help,” Ranalli said. “If you do, it’s a sign of weakness, especially in the infantry, to talk to somebody or to ask for help. You’re looked down upon. It’s just kind of beat into you. You’re supposed to be self-sufficient.”HELENA — Seven of the men who deployed to Iraq with Ryan Ranalli have committed suicide. The latest killed himself in August.
Ranalli, a retired U.S. Army sergeant, saw how the deaths gutted family members.
Despite struggling with the demons of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, Ranalli, 33, vowed that suicide would never be an option.
Yet about 9 p.m. on April 8, an angry and drunken Ranalli mumbled something to his wife, “I love you,” or “You know I will always love you” and sought refuge in the family’s garage.
There, the 200-pound, 6-foot, 3-inch veteran grabbed a parachute cord, wrapped it around his neck and slung it over a beam.
His horrified wife, Jamie, placed a frantic call to his parents who live two minutes away and then went to the garage to be with her husband of two years.
“I thought if I was standing there he wasn’t going to do anything,” Jamie said, choking back tears.
Ranalli’s father cut the cord to rescue his son.
He was transported immediately to the VA hospital.
The drunken episode was the first in about two years.
“I didn’t ever expect that to happen,” Jamie said. “That’s never been him. In my heart I don’t believe it was a serious attempt. I believe it was a cry for help. I believe he was just so overloaded with the feelings and the emotions. Of course, the drinking didn’t help any of that. I believe he was screaming to get him somewhere where he could unload all of this.”
Ranalli remembers nothing of that night, but recalls with precision the events that led to his alcohol-fueled decision.
He was a squad leader with the 502nd Infantry Brigade in March 2003 when it headed the 101st Airborne’s combat air assault into Iraq. The ninth anniversary of the invasion triggered memories of dates when comrades were killed and of defining firefights and battles. He recalled vivid images of combat, images he had suppressed and never discussed.
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In 2007 I asked Why Isn't the Press on a Suicide Watch? Within the list of names was Spc. Chris Dana of the Montana National Guard. His death caused people to take action. Before President Obama was elected the first time, he met with Dana's stepbrother.
August 28, 2008All these later, I am still collecting stories of deaths that didn't need to happen and still asking why the press in not on suicide watch. If I can find these stories in small press outlets, so can they but they just don't bother to.
Spc. Chris Dana's story told to Obama by step brother Stepbrother tells guardsman's story to Obama
Helena soldier took his own life after tour of duty in Iraq
By LAURA TODE
Of The Gazette Staff
Montana National Guard Spc. Chris Dana will never know the impact his life and ultimately his death may someday have on the lives of veterans nationwide.
Dana took his life in March 2007, less than two years after returning from a tour in Iraq. His family believes he was a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder, brought on by his combat experience.
Since Dana's death, his stepbrother Matt Kuntz has campaigned for more awareness of the costs of untreated post-traumatic stress syndrome in Iraq war veterans.
Wednesday, he was invited to meet with Sen. Barack Obama to share the message he's been spreading statewide for more than a year. At a quiet picnic table at Riverfront Park, Obama sat across from Kuntz, his wife, Sandy, and their infant daughter, Fiona.
There is another report from the Billings Gazette released today.
Montana National Guard non-existing suicide prevention plan