“His emotions were always on the rocks”

When I heard about this — first, from Paul Rieckoff of IAVA on Facebook — a simple Google search turned up quickly what felt like two determinative facts: that Joshua Hunter had just spent 15 months in Iraq, and that Fort Drum, where the shooting occurred, is in the process of mobilizing for the new Afghanistan surge. Can no one spell “trigger?”

Hunter’s wife, Emily Hunter, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that her husband was outgoing before he went to war, but when he returned stateside, he was an emotional wreck.

“He wasn’t in any good mental shape at all,” Emily Hunter said. “I tried to get him to go to therapy. They prescribed him medicine and stuff, but it just wasn’t enough.”

She said he saw a therapist at Fort Drum because of his volatile emotions and violent outbursts.

“He’d just burst into tears; spouts of anger or sadness,” she said. “There’d be one emotion but it would be really deep, just extremely happy or extremely sad.”.”

“He’d take his rage out on the wall, or throw something,” she said.

While he wasn’t violent toward his buddies, he was toward her, she said, adding that she went to the hospital a couple of times for treatment of an injured arm and thumb.

She said she moved out two weeks ago because of his violence and is pursuing a divorce.

Emily Hunter said her husband was haunted by one image:

“He saw his best friend get blown up to pieces and he tried to put him back together,” she said. “He was never right after that.”

Calls to Fort Drum to confirm that Hunter had seen a comrade killed by bomb were not immediately returned.

Kudos to the Associated Press’ Mary Esch for putting all the pieces together so quickly. Our profession will need more of this, it seems, as the commedia rolls forward.

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