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War widow’s story of husband’s suicide becoming all too common

On Monday, the Army will release a health care study just weeks after a report found a record number of 325 suicides last year. (AP Photo/File)

Charming. Charismatic. Upbeat. Someone who saw the good in everything. Those sound like typical descriptions of the person you’ve just fallen in love with. And that’s how Ashley Joppa-Hagemann, a war widow, describes her husband Jared.

Jared committed suicide on June 28, 2011. A story that we’re learning is all too common for military personnel who have been deployed overseas.

On Monday, the Army will release a health care study just weeks after a report found a record number of 325 suicides last year.

Ashley and Jared had a tumultuous relationship, according to some reports. She told KIRO Radio’s Luke Burbank they were separated during his last deployment. Despite some of these issues, she’s never shied away from telling anyone – including the military itself, and in one instance Donald Rumsfeld, what serving in the military did to her husband.

Ashley and Jared had only been together a month and half before he deployed the first time. The night before, she said he was already expressing concern. “He shared a few things that didn’t sit well with him, and that he was not looking forward to and I tried my best to comfort him,” said Ashley. “He saw how it changed everybody, that struck me by surprise.”

She said that over at least six deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, she saw him change. He was tense. He was angry. He would drink to “numb himself,” he would tell her.

Finally, after his last deployment, when they were separated, Jared called Ashley up and said ‘I have a gun at the apartment and I’m afraid to be alone.’ That, she said, was the first time he “opened up about suicide, or anything.”

Ashley said she’s upset with the military, for not recognizing the signs or making treatment more accessible. Still, the military, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord, refutes that treatment is not easily accessible.

She is also mad at the community, for not getting angrier that these soldiers who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, are turning to suicide instead of getting the help they clearly need.

“I would like to see more women be open about it,” Hagemann said. She wants to see these women, and wives, not attack their husbands or live in fear of them either.

When she thinks of Jared, she doesn’t think of that phone call, and him saying he had a gun. She said she likes to think of him on his first official Father’s Day with the family. “The last time we all had dinner we had gone to the Great Wolf Lodge,” she said. “Seeing him enjoy that First Father’s Day, seeing him with the kids – he loved being a dad. He wanted to be a family man.”

Read more:
Army to release health care study at JBLM following record number of suicides
Military suicide rate among U.S. troops outnumbers combat deaths

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