Very sad just breaking news in the USMC Staff Sergeant Travis N. Twiggs story we blogged about yesterday. See link for details. It sounds like authorities who were searching for Twiggs and his brother, wanted in an armed carjacking in the Grand Canyon on Monday, learned that they just killed themselves as they were being surrounded by police in Arizona today, in a potential murder-suicide (though no one is speculating who killed whom at this point). The real tragedy that you won't necessarily learn about elsewhere, is that Twiggs, one of the few Marines to come forward and write both convincingly and publicly about his significant struggles with PTSD. He was the the author of an article called "PTSD: The War Within, A Marine Reflects on His Struggles with PTSD," that was published in the January issue of the Marine Corps Gazette, and noted in an article by Washington Post correspondent and military historian, Tom Ricks. Click here to read a copy of that original article by Twiggs, whose recommendations must now of course be considered in light of his subsequently tragic, self-inflicted death.
While several elements in Twiggs' realistic but optimistic story cast doubt to this writer on whether he'd actually overcome his demons, his words undoubtedly gave hope to many, and provided a flesh and blood example of a combat veteran who truly understood. It's with great sadness that we note the literal "end" to the Travis Twiggs story. We hope that the five(!) tours of duty he gave his country as a Marine, first in Afghanistan, and then four more in Iraq, are remembered more than his untimely and tragic end. And we hope that much greater attention will be paid to the cumulative effects of back-to-back deployments and lifetime total load of triggering exposure to the things that cause PTSD. RIP, Ssgt. Travis Twiggs. You gave what you had to give, both before and after combat. It's just a very sad tale that it had to end this way.
Mark Twain had a famous line about truth needing to be stranger than fiction, because fiction at least needed to observe some sort of structure in order to make sense. In that light, there's a particularly, to me, poignant end to Twiggs' own article. He tells his guys -- the ones he knew, and the ones he didn't yet -- "My e-mail is [omitted], and I will help anyone in need." That's a great, kind statement, and particularly sad in light of the realization that Twiggs himself apparently wasn't able to get all the help he needed, either.
Editor's Note: If you want to learn more about who Travis Twiggs was, go to this longer entry, linked here.