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by Jay Shaft
Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007 at 9:52 PM
Two previously unreleased audio interviews with Spc. Douglas Barber, who served in Iraq with the Ohio National Guard. Released to commemorate the one year anniversary of his suicide due to untreated PTSD and overwhelming mental trauma.
Interviews conducted by Jay Shaft: Editor-In-Chief/Executive Investigative Editor
Thought Bomb Radio- Shock and Awe For the Mind Radio Hour/Coalition For Free Thought In Media
“Iraq took away our innocence!”
Previously unreleased audio interview with Spc. Doug Barber - OIF Vet suffering from PTSD
(direct page link to file http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/01/17/18347814.php)
“When we left America we were so much, uh, we were innocent, you know? I would say Iraq took away our innocence as far as what we seen, what we went through. What we had to do and the things that we were prepared to have to do in order to maintain our security and our level of protection, uh, force protection with our unit.”
THIS INTERVIEW WAS PUBLISHED IN PRINT FORMAT ON 12/06/2005.
UNTIL NOW, WE HAD THOUGHT THIS AUDIO INTERVIEW TO BE LOST FOREVER. SOMEHOW IT APPEARED ON OUR MASTER SERVER TWO DAYS AGO. DOUG HAS TO BE SMILING SOMEWHERE!
Hearing his voice after a year really brings home the pain and loss I still feel. Doug had so much to give and so much drive to get it done. I hope he can touch your life as he touched mine.
His death made me dedicate a huge part of my life to working on helping vets to get the stories out and to bring home an awareness of the hell and tribulation that many are going though. I am dedicated to a continued exposure of these issues so that the public can no longer ignore it. If we can help save even one life with this awareness than Doug's death was not in vain.
DOUG-ROBIN BARBER INTERVIEWS THOUGHT BOMB RADIO 1-2-06
(direct page link http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/01/17/18347893.php)
This interview was conducted on 1-2-2006. Doug and Robin Barber had officially been divorced for two days. In this first part I interview Doug about the divorce and the readjustment problems that led to it. I go into extensive detail about the effects of long term separation and the PTSD and problems of coping in regards to the end of the marriage of 11 years.
I then interview Robin Barber about how it was like to see Doug go off to war and then come home a changed man. She discusses the stain of the separation and also the demise of the relationship after the homecoming.
DOUG-ROBIN INTERVIEWS PART2 THOUGHT BOMB RADIO 1-2-06
In this part Robin and Doug are both interviewed. They discuss many more details about the stress of the deployment and also the day to day details that caused a lot of the fear and constant worry to build up.
Both Doug and Robin discussed some of the healing they were trying to undergo, and how they would be able to face the future now that they were divorced.
Doug finishes the interview with some insights into just how badly the war destroyed his entire life. He discusses how he finally realizes what a nightmare the last to ears have been, and how he was seeing some sign of relief in sight.
IN MEMORY OF SPC. DOUGLAS BARBER- ONE YEAR LATER
It has been one year since Spc. Douglas Barber took his own life. In that time his fellow veterans, friends and family continue to mourn his passing, and to try to keep his memory alive. The groups Iraq Veterans Against War, Veterans For Peace, Iraq War Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other various diverse groups have hosted fundraisers and raised awareness in the uniting legacy of Doug’s work.
One thing Doug was very proud of was that he had joined as many veterans groups as he could, with the goal of breaking down barriers to better help veterans.
On the morning of January 16th, 2006 I was supposed to do a follow-up interview about his success after two years of fighting the VA for treatment and benefits. When I called him that morning his phone was busy. I left him a message, and then later he left me one about rescheduling the interview for later in the day.
He called me at 12:55pm as I was preparing to march in the MLK parade. I didn't hear the phone ringing in time to pick it up, a little thing that still haunts me. I tried to return his call, but his phone was busy.
At 12:57 the phone rang again, but I was still trying to call him at home. I got a busy signal and decided to call him back in about an hour. I now know that as I was trying to call him back he was leaving a terrifying message of hopeless despair. A few minutes after 1pm he took his own life.
I wrote extensively of the details surrounding his death, but I just can’t bring myself to write anything else about it now. Even after a year I have trouble going over this for any length of time. Hearing his voice is very hard, but it makes me realize he left an enduring legacy with it.
Here is original article with all the pertinent details.
A Soldier For Truth Has Fallen: In Memory of Specialist Doug Barber
In Memory and Mourning of the Tragic Death of Douglas Barber
I had a long op-ed piece to go along with these unreleased interviews, but my computer crashed and it was lost. Therefore I will let Doug Barber's own words and statements tell the story of his fight with PTSD and how going to Iraq eventually led to his suicide.
I think his own words can sum up his feelings and pain far more effectively than anything I might be able to put into words. The following article is the last article Doug ever wrote. In a way it stands as his suicide note, in that he gives many reasons why vets commit suicide, which eerily foreshadowed his own tragic end.
PTSD - Every Soldier's Personal WAR!
By Spc. Doug Barber
In the last month I have been working with Jay Shaft, the editor of Coalition For Free Thought in media regarding my experiences in Iraq and since coming home from the war. We have only touched on some of the struggles of being a soldier, however we have not dug deeply into the personal war that Operation Iraqi Freedom has caused for returning soldiers.
Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush do not want to reveal to the American people that this war is a personal war. They want to run the war like a business, and thus they refuse to show the personal sacrifices the soldiers and their families have made for this country.
My thought today is to help you the reader understand what happens to a soldier when they come home and the sacrifice we continue to make. This may be lengthy, it may be short; but no matter how long it is, just close your eyes and imagine a flag draped coffin.
Inside that coffin is the body of a man or woman who will never get to live their life to the fullest, yet they bore the total cost so that we could live free. Their soul is somewhere else and all we have is their memory which over time will be forgotten by other events of greater importance. The families of these soldiers have a hole in their hearts that will never be replaced, even though they have pictures and happy memories.
Some families will refuse to believe they are gone, but still their sons and daughters are the hero's of a country that sent them to war. This war on terror has become a personal war for so many, yet the Bush Administration does not want journalists or families to photograph the only thing that is left of our soldiers who have died. They do not want the people to remember that image of a flag draped coffin as the last memory this country will ever have of our fallen men and woman.
They say that America will raise their voices and demand a stop to the war, but my question is why should we not show the results of war? For us as a country, we send these soldiers to war and we see their faces while they are alive. I say let their memories live on in every photo, even when they do come home in a flag draped coffin. Let their sacrifice be forever etched in the memory of America. We owe their families this at the very least.
All is not okay or right for those of us who return home alive and supposedly well. What looks like normalcy and readjustment is only an illusion to be revealed by time and torment. Some soldiers come home missing limbs and other parts of their bodies. Still others will live with permanent scars from horrific events that no one other than those who served will ever understand.
We come home from war trying to put our lives back together but some cannot stand the memories and decide that death is better. They kill themselves because they are so haunted by seeing children killed and whole families wiped out.
They ask themselves how you put a price tag on someone else's life? The question goes unanswered as they become another casualty of the war. Hero's become another statistic to America and they are another little article relegated to the back of a newspaper.
Still others come home to nothing, families have abandoned them: husbands and wives have left these soldiers, and so have parents as well. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has become the norm amongst these soldiers because they don't know how to cope with returning to a society that will never understand what they have had to endure to liberate another country.
PTSD comes in many forms not understood by many: but yet if a soldier has it, America thinks the soldiers are crazy. PTSD comes in the form of depression, anger, regret, being confrontational, anxiety, chronic pain, compulsion, delusions, grief, guilt, dependence, loneliness, sleep disorders, suspiciousness/paranoia, low self-esteem and so many other things.
We are easily startled with a loud bang or noise and can be found ducking for cover when we get panicked. This is a result of artillery rounds going off in a combat zone, or an IED blowing up.
I myself have trouble coping with an everyday routine that deals with other people that often causes me to have a short fuse. A lot of soldiers lose multiple jobs just because they are trained to be killers and they have lived in an environment that is conducive to that. We are always on guard for our safety and that of our comrades. When you go to bed at night you wonder will you be sent home in a flag draped coffin because a mortar round went off on your sleeping area.
Soldiers live in deplorable conditions where burning your own feces is the order of the day. Where going days on end with no shower and the uniform you wear gets so crusty it sometimes sticks to your body becomes a common occurrence. We also deal with rationing water or even food for that matter. So when a soldier comes home to what they left they are unsure of what to do being in a civilized world again.
This is what PTSD comes in the shape of--soldiers can not often handle coming back to the same world they left behind. It is something that drives soldiers over the edge and causes them to withdraw from society. As Americans we turn our nose down at them wondering why they act the way they do. Who cares about them, why should we help them?
Talk show hosts like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and so many others act like they know all about war; then they refuse to give any credence to soldiers like me who have been to war and seen the brutality of war. These guys are nothing but WEAK SPINELESS COWARDS hiding behind microphones while soldiers come home and are losing everything they have.
I ask every American who reads this e-mail to stand up for the soldier who has given their everything for this country to stand up to these guys in the media; ask them why they don't pick up a weapon and follow in the steps of a soldier. Send this e-mail to as many people on your e-mail lists and ask them to do the same.
There needs to be a National awareness for every Veteran who has ever served in any war. Send e-mails to the Big Mouths on TV and ask them to have soldiers like me on their programs. I am asking you as Americans to BOYCOTT every TV show or host/journalist that refuses to tell the real truth.
THIS IS A PERSONAL CHALLENGE TO BILL,SEAN AND RUSH TO HAVE ME ON YOUR PROGRAM TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. Otherwise you are nothing but dirt under every soldier's boots!
SPC. Douglas Barber
To all crooked government officials that is reading my e-mail, I hope you are enjoying yourself and maybe one day your eyes will be opened to the master who enslaves you. I know how to fight warfare and am prepared to fight it as well. LET THIS BE A WARNING!! I am watching and I know you are watching me but I don't care. LET FREEDOM BE HEARD.
Doug posted this on his blog on 12-5-05. I think it really highlights his goal and desire to help out other vets.
Soldiers crying for help
I hear the soldiers from every war crying out for help but their cries go unheard-- they cry out to a government that sent them off to war.
Some volunteered others were drafted and more were told they were going because they had been in trouble with the law. Still others went to war to escape an abusive life style or poverty that took every thing they ever knew.
These soldiers went out unto another life to learn an art of Arms not knowing what road it would take them down. Uncertainty was sure to get even the best of every man or woman as they traveled that road, however, they went anyway regardless of the costs.
The road these soldiers went down took away their inner virginity--innocence never to be regained. The road to war would for ever leave them changed some would never come home but in a FLAG DRAPED COFFIN. Few would never come home mentally even though their bodies were here they would never be.
Families would see their loved ones as the ones they knew before the war but that was an illusion that would never come back. These soldiers fought for a reason and that was for the very reasons that America stands for. They never asked for anything in return until they come back home.
We see them on the streets of America, in the VA Hospitals, in our work places, and in our homes but we as Americans have just discarded them like a piece of trash. Their lives have been turned inside out yet we say they are not our problem.
They cry for help at the very place that is to be a refuge for them and that is the VA Hospital, but the very help they seek is lined with read tape and some politicians’ ideas. The government has used the very ones who secured our Freedoms but then require them to jump through hoops.
We fight the poverty in other countries but can’t eliminate the red tape so a soldier can get the help they need. The soldier dies and their voices haunt America from decade to decade. We have as Americans thrown salt on old wounds.
To my dear comrades in arms please keep up the cry--for one day we will be heard.
The following comments were made on my news group by Doug’s mother and sister.
Doug Barber: My Hero
Sat Jan 21, 2006
By Connie B.- Spc. Doug Barber's Sister
Published by Coalition For Free Thought In Media
Hi, my name is Connie and I am Doug Barber's full blooded sister. I want to say I do love and miss him very much. I just spent over a week with him after our father passed away in December, He was so happy to have me in his life, and he looked and acted like things were getting better. This turn of events this week has shaken up the family.
I believe in everything that he has been doing, but honestly, until now I did not think he was this bad with PTSD. I had not seen him since he left for war until just a couple of weeks ago. I knew he had problems but really thought a lot of it was from problems while growing up.
Doug and I never got to grow up together because I was adopted outside of the family until we were reunited back in late 80's.
Everyone please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as our family prepares to lay him to rest Saturday January 28th. Boy, I miss him already. He was my last brother.
I can not get involved with the political aspect of his PTSD because I am still in the service, but would like to understand more on what his beliefs were, and the involvements that he has been active in.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY DEAR LOVING BROTHER-CONNIE
Douglas Barber: My Special Hero
Thu Jan 26, 2006
By Martha Moore (Spc. Douglas A. Barber's Mother)
Published by Coalition For Free Thought In Media
I am the Mother of Douglas who took his life on Jan. 16, 2006. All I ask from everyone is to keep us in your thoughts and prayers in the days, weeks and months to come. As I am preparing to lay my Son to rest I hope that you keep my son's tour of duty in your hearts. Always remember he served his country with Pride and Dedication and to keep each of us safe from Terrorism.
Also, please in his memory go to your Mother's tell them just how much you love, honor, and care for her. Give her your unconditional love, letting her know that she means the world to you. Be with her, protect and trust in her. Hug and kiss her every chance you can. No matter how old you are let her know that she is the most important person in your life. You only have one Mother! Tomorrow you may never have another chance. I will always love and miss my baby forever. Martha Moore (Douglas A. Barber's Mother)
Several other news stories were published at the time of Doug’s death. I have included links to them with some other quotes about Doug from various web sites and discussion forums.
The life and death of an Iraq veteran who could take no more
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington and Oliver Duff
Published: 25 January 2006
By his own admission Douglas Barber, a former Army reservist, was struggling. For two years since returning from the chaos and violence of Iraq, the 35-year-old had battled with his memories and his demons, the things he had seen and the fear he had experienced. Recently, it seemed he had turned a corner, securing medical help and counselling.
But last week, at his home in south-eastern Alabama, the National Guardsman e-mailed some friends and then changed the message on his answering machine. His new message told callers: "If you're looking for Doug, I'm checking out of this world. I'll see you on the other side." Mr Barber dialled the police, stepped on to the porch with his shotgun and - after a brief stand-off with officers - shot himself in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
KIA in Alabama
by Stan Goff
Published on Saturday, January 21, 2006
On January 16th, after having talked quite normally on the phone with at least two
other people that same day, Douglas Barber, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) living in Lee County, Alabama, changed the answer-message on his telephone.
There is a hell of a lot that we just don't know about how this happened. I talked to Doug on the phone earlier this month, and he described how excited he was to have joined IVAW, how he looked forward to taking up the pen and speaking out. Others had spoken with him only days and hours before he permanently quieted the chaos in his head. None of the "classic" signs of suicidal thinking were manifest. He was gregarious and upbeat, playful.
We know he had been prescribed medication. When he came back from Iraq, having served with the 1485th Transportation Company, a National Guard unit federalized to compensate for the extreme combat overstretch in Iraq, he was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress (PTSD), and the Veterans Administration medical system leans toward drugs. In fact, they frequently shazam PTSD into something called "personality disorder," which can be treated with drugs.
Douglas Barber Commits Suicide
Last month, on December 16, 2005, Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran Spc. Douglas Barber was my guest on my radio talk show. He said he'd been diagnosed with PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) and despite receiving some help from the V.A., was still having trouble getting his life back together.
Yesterday, one month later, on January 16, 2006, I received an email from a listener who'd been exchanging emails with Douglas since his appearance on my show. Douglas has just sent him an email that troubled the listener. Douglas said he no longer had anything to live for, and was getting ready to "check out of this world." My wife immediately called Douglas and left a message on his cell phone. She also called the Montgomery Police Department in Alabama.
At the start of the 3rd hour of my program last night, I received an email from one of Douglas's friends, who told me that Douglas had committed suicide earlier that afternoon. Today I was able to confirm his suicide with the Opelika, Alabama Police Department. The officer in charge of the investigation told me that it had happened with officers on the scene trying to talk Douglas out of it. The officer told me Douglas took his gun, fired one shot, and killed himself.
Here is a link to the interview Spc. Douglas Barber did on my radio show on December 16, 2005 – commercial and news breaks have been edited out. I am so sick and tired of our brave soldiers dying as a result of George W. Bush's lies, and I feel I owe it to Douglas to do whatever I can to ensure his death was not in vain.
Please use this story and the interview in whichever manner you feel will best help the truth be known. Spc. Douglas Barber was truly one of this country's finest. He even re-upped knowing that this war was predicated on lies. He served his country (its leaders) and obviously, did not receive the help he needed when he returned home.
How much longer will this country allow this to continue?
Veteran Who Spoke Out About War's Psychological Affects Commits Suicide
In Ohio, a 35-year-old veteran of the Iraq war was buried on Saturday - a week after he committed suicide. Army Reservist Douglas Barber was a member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War and had publicly spoken out about the psychological toll war takes on veterans. A month before he died he appeared on Doug Basham's radio show. Barber reportedly spent two years fighting the military to get counseling and for the VA to recognize his disability. Just days before he shot himself, Douglas Barber wrote QUOTE, "We cannot stand the memories and [we] decide death is better. We kill ourselves because we are haunted by seeing children killed and families wiped out." Meanwhile a new report from UPI is estimating 19,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress since 2002. Overall 40,000 veterans from the two wars have exhibited some signs of mental health disorders.
As you can see, Doug did have quite an effect on many people’s lives. Please listen to the interviews, because it might be the story of someone in your hometown, maybe even your neighbor. Over 500,000 soldiers have served in Iraq since the war began.
It is estimated that as many as 5 out of every 10 will suffer from some form of long term PTSD or related mental trauma. At Least 90% of returning veterans have reported some type of readjustment problem since returning home
© 2003-2006 Coalition For Free Thought In Media
This article may be freely distributed for non-profit and educational purposes only.
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Jay Shaft is a freelance investigative writer and the Editor-In-Chief/Managing Investigative Editor of the independent news group Coalition For Free Thought In Media.
He has conducted many interviews with soldiers who have served in Iraq, in which service members exposed the issues of the military's failure to provide proper equipment and training to US troops, and he has been on the forefront of investigating the price that soldiers are paying as a result.
He is currently involved in interviewing soldiers who have returned from war with PTSD or traumatic injuries. An ongoing expose and series of troops/vet interviews and articles highlighting the failure of the VA system to adequately take care of the soldiers and vets is in current publication at this time. There is an ongoing series of letters from soldiers serving in Iraq that is being published as well.
Contact Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org
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