Wounded Soldier Writes Letter About Pain And Being Forced To Commit War Crimes In Iraq . . . Then Commits Suicide

article-2346882-1A77BC63000005DC-561_634x472Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served with Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. He ran more than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee and interviewed Iraqis and insurgents alike. When he returned, he had PTSD as well as traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions. On June 10, 2013, he wrote the letter below to his family. A heartfelt and heart-breaking account of pain and memories that he could not overcome. He tells his family that “I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity.” You may have seen this but if not it is worth reading. It is worth considering the unfathomable cost of these wars that our politicians, including Obama, allowed to continue for years despite little sign of progress. Men and women like Daniel have paid the cost of a cynical political calculation.

I am sorry that it has come to this.

The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.

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You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I can not do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it.

I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.

My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.

You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.

To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.

Beyond that, there are the host of physical illnesses that have struck me down again and again, for which they also offer no help. There might be some progress by now if they had not spent nearly twenty years denying the illness that I and so many others were exposed to. Further complicating matters is the repeated and severe brain injuries to which I was subjected, which they also seem to be expending no effort into understanding. What is known is that each of these should have been cause enough for immediate medical attention, which was not rendered.

Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured “overprescribing epidemic,” which stands in stark relief to all of the legitimate research, which shows the opposite to be true. Perhaps, with the right medication at the right doses, I could have bought a couple of decent years, but even that is too much to ask from a regime built upon the idea that suffering is noble and relief is just for the weak.

However, when the challenges facing a person are already so great that all but the weakest would give up, these extra factors are enough to push a person over the edge.

Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with thosefamilies at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.

It leaves us to where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty, and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead.

And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for

Since then, I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility.

Then, I pursued replacing destruction with creation. For a time this provided a distraction, but it could not last. The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so.

I thought perhaps I could make some headway with this film project, maybe even directly appealing to those I had wronged and exposing a greater truth, but that is also now being taken away from me. I fear that, just as with everything else that requires the involvement of people who can not understand by virtue of never having been there, it is going to fall apart as careers get in the way.

The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission. It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me.

Thus, I am left with basically nothing. Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war. Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out—and thus deserve better. So you see, not only am I better off dead, but the world is better without me in it

This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations. I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried

I am free.

I ask that you be happy for me for that. It is perhaps the best break I could have hoped for. Please accept this and be glad for me.

Daniel Somers

Daniel was just 30 years old.

90 thoughts on “Wounded Soldier Writes Letter About Pain And Being Forced To Commit War Crimes In Iraq . . . Then Commits Suicide”

  1. halvie54:

    you make me laugh. Is that all you have to say?

    Back it up, how did it inject, how did it grease the path to never ending war?
    The words arent twisted at all, they are explicit and she means what she says. Maybe this will help you:

    “Wars are the second greatest evil that human societies can perpetrate. (The first is dictatorship, the enslavement of their own citizens, which is the cause of wars.)”

    “Men who are free to produce, have no incentive to loot; they have nothing to gain from war and a great deal to lose. Ideologically, the principle of individual rights does not permit a man to seek his own livelihood at the point of a gun, inside or outside his country. Economically, wars cost money; in a free economy, where wealth is privately owned, the costs of war come out of the income of private citizens—there is no overblown public treasury to hide that fact—and a citizen cannot hope to recoup his own financial losses (such as taxes or business dislocations or property destruction) by winning the war. Thus his own economic interests are on the side of peace.”

    In other words the income tax [to which I am opposed] allows a disconnect between the people and the money spent. It is taxation which allows wars to be fought and other things but mostly it is the money which allows a 2 bit punk like Obama or a slightly better punk like Bush to have the means to take us into a war.

    Wouldnt a selfish person want to live? How does selfishness square with sacrifice?

    You make some statements but you dont back them up with anything of substance.

    Just saying oh its selfishness doesnt really mean anything.

    Are you married? Do you share your wife/husband with others? If you dont why not? Are you selfish? How much of your income do you give away? If you dont give more than half to others, I would say you are selfish.

  2. My, how the hypocritical little hack twisted and turned her flowery words, in a vain attempt to disguise the part she played in instilling her unholy doctrine of delusional selfishness into the very bloodstream of our nations most powerful forces, and excused and profitably greased the path to never ending war.

  3. “Remember that private citizens—whether rich or poor, whether businessmen or workers—have no power to start a war. That power is the exclusive prerogative of a government. Which type of government is more likely to plunge a country into war: a government of limited powers, bound by constitutional restrictions—or an unlimited government, open to the pressure of any group with warlike interests or ideologies, a government able to command armies to march at the whim of a single chief executive?”

    “If men want to oppose war, it is statism that they must oppose. So long as they hold the tribal notion that the individual is sacrificial fodder for the collective, that some men have the right to rule others by force, and that some (any) alleged “good” can justify it—there can be no peace within a nation and no peace among nations.”

    “Statism—in fact and in principle—is nothing more than gang rule. A dictatorship is a gang devoted to looting the effort of the productive citizens of its own country. When a statist ruler exhausts his own country’s economy, he attacks his neighbors. It is his only means of postponing internal collapse and prolonging his rule. A country that violates the rights of its own citizens, will not respect the rights of its neighbors. Those who do not recognize individual rights, will not recognize the rights of nations: a nation is only a number of individuals.

    Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by production.

    Observe that the major wars of history were started by the more controlled economies of the time against the freer ones. For instance, World War I was started by monarchist Germany and Czarist Russia, who dragged in their freer allies. World War II was started by the alliance of Nazi Germany with Soviet Russia and their joint attack on Poland.”

    “One of the notions used by all sides to justify the draft, is that “rights impose obligations.” Obligations, to whom?—and imposed, by whom? Ideologically, that notion is worse than the evil it attempts to justify: it implies that rights are a gift from the state, and that a man has to buy them by offering something (his life) in return. Logically, that notion is a contradiction: since the only proper function of a government is to protect man’s rights, it cannot claim title to his life in exchange for that protection.”

    Ayn Rand on War and the Draft

  4. Michael Beaton 1, July 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    @Dredd : Re your point about the militarization of the police…

    Good point. I hadnt considered the impact of the war vets becoming the police. That is something to consider. As has been manifested in many examples in recent years there is a difference between the police function and the military one. As these get muddled we, as a society, are experiencing some shocking consequences.

    This is an amazing and terrifying consequence of the recent wars, Iraq, Afghanistan and also the faux “War on Terror”.

    I was reading this yesterday but hadnt put the two points together like you did. …
    ==========================================
    Thanks for the link.

    My quote was from the same book in your link, that is, “Rise of the Warrior Cop”.

    Daniel committed suicide because his conscience would not die, and thus caused him much moral pain.

    Yet, “there are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke“, and they do not look at it the way Daniel did.

    They can’t, because their conscience died somewhere along the way.

    They are now psychopaths.

    And they are warmly welcomed by police forces, government agencies, and other places of power.

    Where they can wreak much havoc on unsuspecting civilians.

    Because “they served”.

    Get ready for it, it is coming … in fact it is already here.

  5. “Many who shout the loudest that we must “support the troops” urge sending them off to unwinnable and undeclared wars in which there is no legitimate US interest. The US military has been abused by those who see military force as a first resort rather than the last resort and only in self-defense. This abuse has resulted in a generation of American veterans facing a life sentence in the prison of tortured and deeply damaged minds as well as broken bodies.”

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/ron-paul-on-the-death-of-daniel-somers.html

  6. @Dredd : Re your point about the militarization of the police…

    Good point. I hadnt considered the impact of the war vets becoming the police. That is something to consider. As has been manifested in many examples in recent years there is a difference between the police function and the military one. As these get muddled we, as a society, are experiencing some shocking consequences.

    This is an amazing and terrifying consequence of the recent wars, Iraq, Afghanistan and also the faux “War on Terror”.

    I was reading this yesterday but hadnt put the two points together like you did. You might appreciate this article/book as well:
    http://www.salon.com/2013/07/10/militarized_police_overreach_oh_god_i_thought_they_were_going_to_shoot_me_next%E2%80%9D/

  7. @HI : This story is made up. Why didn’t he go into the war crimes details? The letter just states I have pain blah blah war crimes blah blah goodbye. It doesn’t expose the corruption he claims. I call BS
    ——————————–
    I call BS on you.
    None of these “lacks” you point out are relevant to the issue of this mans life and experience. The letter he wrote is his letter, for his purposes. It does not require your agenda to be fulfilled to be meaningful, accurate and also telling about a certain substrate of life and experience.

    Beyond that seemingly obvious point, your evident disdain and callous compassion says more about you. I wonder, do you deny the experience or minimize the pain that men (and I presume women) who have been in combat live with? And sometimes die with? Do you deny the fact of ongoing daily suicides by these men who did the bidding of the country, and then have been discarded by that country in so many ways? (See many of the other posts in this thread).

    It does not take war crimes to be affected this deeply and in this way. And the notion of war crimes itself needs to be defined in order to really get to the point of this mans’ experience. It is arguable, from my pov, that the entire basis of the Iraq war was a criminal exercise. But that is not relevant to your post, nor the original post.

    It reminds me of the poignant line in “Death of a Salesman”: A man is dying [has died] and attention must be paid.

    You don’t have to agree with any of the points or even the manner in which this man responded to his experience. Argue the point of war crimes or not or any other particular. Fair play.

    What is absolute is that this man was profoundly affected in ways we are not allowed to judge unless we have been there. And when one has been there you will not be so quick to judge or cast this level of unempathetic aspersion.

  8. johnfromberkeley 1, July 13, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I hate to sound cruel, but I was under the impression that we have a volunteer military. A military with a long history of war crimes and abandoning veterans after their service. If Daniel didn’t want to kill innocent people, he shouldn’t have joined the military. There’s a reason that one stereotype of an enlistee is someone who is looking forward to committing these kind of crimes.

    Daniel’s complaints are the exact reason I have never considered military service: I value the rule of law, and humane treatment of all people. My niece just returned from an education-based camp run by the U.S. Air Force for gifted children where she was belittled by her “superior” officers… grown men… officers shaming a 14-year girl. Military culture is not secret.

    Outrage is valid, but shock at this event isn’t. Seriously, what did Daniel expect?!
    ==================================
    Truth seems to be very cruel to tyranny, but truth is fair to all.

    But this tyranny that Daniel finally took a look at, from his insides, is not deterred by his letter, your comment, or by truth.

    Think of those brothers in arms alongside Daniel who rejoiced in what they were doing, and when they came back they joined the police forces around the nation to continue their wars:

    Between about the early 1980s and today, American police forces have undergone some substantial changes. Most notable among these is the ascent of the SWAT team. Once limited to large cities and reserved for emergency situations like hostage takings, active shooters, or escaped fugitives, SWAT teams today are primarily used to serve warrants on people suspected of nonviolent, consensual drug crimes.

    The numbers are staggering. In the early 1980s, there were about 3,000 SWAT “call-outs” per year across the entire country. By 2005, there were an estimated 50,000. In New York City alone, there were 1,447 drug raids 1994. By 2002, eight years later, there were 5,117 — a 350 percent increase. In 1984, about a fourth of towns between 25,000-50,000 people had a SWAT team. By 2005, it was 80 percent.

    Today, the use of this sort of force is in too many jurisdictions the first option for serving search warrants instead of the last. SWAT teams today are used to break up poker games and massage parlors, for immigration enforcement, even to perform regulatory inspections.

    Troubling as all of this is, the problem goes beyond SWAT teams. Too many police departments today are infused with a more general militaristic culture. Cops today are too often told that they’re soldiers fighting a war, be it a war on crime, on drugs, on terrorism, or whatever other recent gremlin politicians have chosen as the enemy.

    (Deja Voodoo). His family will not have him to protect them from his brothers in arms.

    Those at war with the civilian population.

  9. This story is made up. Why didn’t he go into the war crimes details? The letter just states I have pain blah blah war crimes blah blah goodbye. It doesn’t expose the corruption he claims. I call BS

  10. An argument for mandatory conscription of all citizens, or the dissolution of a standing army

    1. What is particularly sad about Daniel S suicide is that the seeds of healing were beginning to show up. He was, in his letter, beginning to ask the right questions, and sus out some of the right answers.
      That is he was getting some perspective. A necessary pre-condition to healing. From this place, had he been able to have gained a little more peace and internal quietness – some footing for himself that could diminish the pain enough to where suicide was not the only choice — He could have been a compelling voice for change.

      It would have taken a lot, and obviously more than he was able to bear. And that has to be respected.

      I would wish that we who remain, would figure out how to get past jingoistic platitudes in reaction and learn how to make the necessary changes in our society.

      If we don’t, we – our society, our country, our selves, will be dismantled as surely as this man was. There is a certain “suicide” path the country is on. While not so dramatic, perhaps, it is just as certain.

      For example: It may be the case that “Obama is no different that Bush”. But it seems obvious to me that this is not the case in nearly every way. And to not be able to make the actual distinction in this matter is an example of the overall inability to make meaningful distinctions in the rest of the troubling issues. It is the mindset that enables and energizes the fundamentalist absolutes that has infiltrated our body politic. The consequences of this sort of broad brush assertions are that we become reactionary not responsive to what is happening.

      For what it matters: I am not an Obama guy. I am as disappointed in Obama as anyone. In many ways I would argue the position that Obama has become worse than Bush. (But not in all matters! And not in absolutes!) My point above was not meant to draw a good/bad right/wrong line. It requires its own article and essay to work this point out. For this post I hope only to insert into the conversation that we have to think different if we are to have different outcomes.

      I happen to agree with the larger sentiment that there are forces in control that we don’t have clear visibility into. But I do not agree that there is nothing to be done about it, nor that “Obama is just another Bush”. There are similarities, and there are differences – a very easy case to make I think. And I think we have to deal with the actual distinctions of what is, rather than some knee jerk, habitual reactions to keywords in the news.

      Too much for a sunny Saturday morning I suppose. The need is great, and the times are sleepy. But a walk around the lake seems the next best thing to do just now.

      Michael

  11. I hate to sound cruel, but I was under the impression that we have a volunteer military. A military with a long history of war crimes and abandoning veterans after their service. If Daniel didn’t want to kill innocent people, he shouldn’t have joined the military. There’s a reason that one stereotype of an enlistee is someone who is looking forward to committing these kind of crimes.

    Daniel’s complaints are the exact reason I have never considered military service: I value the rule of law, and humane treatment of all people. My niece just returned from an education-based camp run by the U.S. Air Force for gifted children where she was belittled by her “superior” officers… grown men… officers shaming a 14-year girl. Military culture is not secret.

    Outrage is valid, but shock at this event isn’t. Seriously, what did Daniel expect?!

    1. Unfortunately for too many the service is the only option the have. To some degree it makes it non voluntary if you want to look at it that way.
      ““When the economy slackens and unemployment rises and jobs become more scarce in civilian society, recruiting is less challenging,” said Curtis Gilroy, the director of accession policy for the Department of Defense. ”
      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/19/us/19recruits.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
      This from a n article on the military now raising their standards.
      Just six years ago, during the Iraq war surge, the military had lower standards. Only about 86% of new recruits had high-school diplomas, and just 67% of recruits scored in the top 50th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. Waivers excusing health issues and prior misconduct — even felonies — were not uncommon.
      A high-school diploma, above-average score on the military entrance exams, and a clean slate — free from prior drug use or criminal conduct — are practically required now. Thanks to high youth unemployment and the drawdown from both Iraq and Afghanistan, Uncle Sam can afford to be a bit pickier. http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/15/news/economy/military-recruiting/index.html
      I also think many who join the military do not think they will be sent to war, kind of the same way those who live on the coast think they will be the ones not hit by a hurricane.

  12. The “sickness” I alluded to in my last comment up-thread was described by Dr. Noam Chomsky awhile back:

    The purpose of America, on the other hand, is “transcendent”: to bring freedom and justice to the rest of the world. But he’s a good scholar, like Carothers. So he went through the record. He said, when you study the record, it looks as if the United States hasn’t lived up to its transcendent purpose. But then he says, to criticize our transcendent purpose “is to fall into the error of atheism, which denies the validity of religion on similar grounds” — which is a good comparison. It’s a deeply entrenched religious belief. It’s so deep that it’s going to be hard to disentangle it.

    (Tom Dispatch).

  13. lottakatz 1, July 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Els DL, I too have done a 180′ on the draft, not he corrupt old farce that lets a Cheney get 5 deferment because he had other plans but a real draft – no fortunate ones, no Senator’s sons; but everyone between the age of 18 and 25 with no exemptions.

    ===================================
    Why wouldn’t replacing indoctrination with enlightenment work better?

    Vietnam had a draft nevertheless the same war crimes that Daniel Somers said he was ordered to do were done following the high level order to “kill anything that moves.”

    The sickness that preceded the sickness that took out Daniel Somers is what needs to be addressed and healed.

  14. I am a disabled vet who is now a blinding drunk and I have a tough time dealing with what I’ve seen and done. I’m sorry for this young brother in arms and his family. Suicide is not the answer! No religion here at all, but we have groups that help and giving up is just not the answer. The damage left to family is just devistating. Stay strong please.

  15. I hate to say this but your religious dick bags that are saying god bless are hypocrites. According to your so called gospel this brave man is going to hell for taking his own life. He deserves much better than your prayers for his family and your meaningless blessings. Stand up for this shit if you think this is a tragedy, lemmings.

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