JG - Not easy to shed Iraq ghosts
Not easy to shed Iraq ghosts
published: Sunday April 6, 2008
Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator
Jerome Young, a Jamaican who served in the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. - File
WHILE THERE is no evidence to suggest that Jamaican-born and former United States Army soldier, Kevin Brown, who served in Iraq, might have been suffering from that experience, another Jamaican-born US soldier, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, says it is not easy for anybody with such an experience to adjust when they return from war.
"When you spend 15 months in a place like Iraq where you hear explosions and witness people being killed, and some of the victims may be your best friends, not everybody can handle this sort of pressure," US army veteran Jerome Young tells The Sunday Gleaner.
Cracked under pressure
Young's comments are based on reports that Brown, who served in Iraq, cracked under pressure and that might have contributed to his emotional instability. Brown was arrested in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday after bomb components were found in his checked-in luggage. He was waiting to board an Air Jamaica flight to Montego Bay. In addition to his traumatic army missions in Iraq, Brown has been grieving the murder of his mother, hotelier Sandra McLeod at a hotel in Negril in June 2005.
"Since his return from Iraq, he hasn't been the same," Brown's mother-in-law, Karen Holt, said last week. "He see things, he hears things and he just doesn't act normal. In fact, he is extremely distant," she added.
Young's account of his military experience in Iraq and Afghanistan sheds some light on the emotional condition of Brown. Young recounts an experience in Iraq, where his roommate began acting strangely and one night attempted to shoot him with an M-16 rifle. "When I saw him put the clip in the rifle, I had to chuck (lunge) on him; other soldiers heard us, came in and restrained him. They had to send him back home," relates Young.Speaking about himself, he explains that on both occasions when he returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, he went through a period of counselling.
"The counselling did not work for me, I took music for it. I recently completed my first album," discloses Young, who grew up in Portmore, St Catherine. He almost got killed on one of his assignments in Iraq. While returning to base, his army unit came under attack and, within seconds, his colleague who was sitting beside him was shot in the face. He died on the spot.
On one of his recent trips to Jamaica, Young relates, he was in downtown Kingston and heard a loud rumbling and without hesitation, he dived to the ground. Onlookers laughed at him because it was just the sound of thunder.
Young says he is on his way out of the army and wants to concentrate more on his music career.