Stress and Strain Can Cause a Mental Breakdown - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

06/29/06 - Lufkin

Stress and Strain Can Cause a Mental Breakdown

by Ramonica R. Jones

A soldier from Lufkin is accused of shooting another serviceman after they fought over who served in the "meanest branch of government."

Christopher Marlowe is in jail charged with aggravated battery. Marlowe reportedly shot Erik Beelman of New Orleans in the face at a hotel where Marlowe works. Beelman was visiting there when he and Marlowe started talking.

One man was in the Marines. The other was in the Army. The pair got into a shoving match and Marlowe is accused of hitting Beelman with a baton, then pulling out a gun and shooting him.

Beelman is in critical condition.

Marlowe's crime is one of many recent incidents involving military servicemen. The case is extreme, but local veterans know our soldiers can face a lot of stress and trauma, sometimes leading them to trouble.

It's not uncommon for military service people to boast about their branch being the best, but rarely do those debates end in violence. Korean War veteran Jack Roberts believes a combination of things can cause soldiers to mentally snap.

"Stress [is the] first thing," Roberts said. "Maybe they haven't been in combat, but they have the dread of going to combat or if they have been, they're stressed out for that reason."

Roberts also believes returning veterans don't have enough resources to turn to for help. He said they're often forgotten about when the war is over.

"Boys came back from Vietnam, they were spit on, cussed, and everything else. It was pitiful."

From dealing with post-war stress to preparing to ship out to combat, he wants the government to make more of an effort to counsel, support, and reward its heroes.

"Our V.A. program is good in some respects, but it's lousy in other respects," said Roberts. "They don't do enough for the soldiers that actually need help the worst."

Roberts said younger soldiers are more likely to have behavioral and mental health issues, because they are less mature and capable of handling the issues that often come with military life.

This week, a military jury acquitted a Coast Guard Academy cadet from Houston of rape, but the jury did find him guilty of indecent assault, extortion, sodomy, and other charges. It was the first court-martial of a student in the Coast Guard Academy's 130-year history.

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