Sunday, August 2, 2009

PTSD is REAL . . .

We're talking about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder . . . and it can be DEADLY.

Fortunately, Army Reserve Staff Sergeant George Nickel survived his obvious episode of PTSD.

On February 8th, 2007, Staff Sergeant Nickel was the lone survivor from the explosion of one of the largest IEDs ever placed, outside of Karma, Iraq. The blast penetrated the armored hull and the 12 ton bomb-resistant vehicle was blown more than 10 feet in the air. Nearly every bone on the right side of his body was broken, and shrapnel from the blast tore his flesh; it was a miracle Nickel lived at all. Less than a foot away from him, the turret gunner was blown out of his hatch, dead before he hit the ground. The vehicle commander was even closer to George, and he was also killed right away. The driver lived long enough to be medevac'ed by chopper to the field hospital in Fallujah, but he died of his wounds en route.

The war doesn't end for a vet when he comes home; it's worse if you come back in pieces. Nickel was sent from Iraq to the Army Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany. His destination in the States was Walter Reed - a grim place on a good day; George Nickel was lucky enough to arrive at the height of the neglect scandal.

Due to his condition, and the situation back home, George couldn't be sent home for rehabilitation therapy. Back in Idaho he was an hour from the nearest VA rehab facility, and his house in the woods was not handicap accessible. So the Army warehoused him in an old hotel near Walter Reed. The conditions in these places are deplorable. George Nickle finally arrived home to Boise on July 4th, 2008.

What happened this week: George Nickel lost his dog. For whatever reason he took along a handgun, his AR-15 rifle and was wearing a tactical vest with as many as 90 rounds of ammunition when he went to look for it. Police say Nickel shot his way into two apartments before they arrived, clearing rooms CQB-style as he searched for his pup.

He developed situational awareness fast, apparently; Nickel surrendered to police without returning a shot as four officers fired some 12 rounds in a confrontation in the stairwell of Nickel's apartment. No one was struck by any of the gunfire, thank God.

George Nickel Jr., 38, is being held in the Ada County Jail on a $500,000 bond for four felony charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, unlawful discharge of a gun into an inhabited building, and felony use of a gun in the commission of a felony.

I'm not a lawyer or a politician, and I don't know what can be done or said on SSG Nickel's behalf, but I've seen amazing results from the Internet's ability to blast out info in all directions. Maybe somebody out there is in a better position than I am to do or say something on SSG Nickel's behalf: a preliminary hearing on the charges is scheduled for August 13th in front of 4th District Magistrate Kevin Swain.

Here's more on what happened, and the hell that SGT Nickel went through downrange.

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