Saturday, January 28, 2006

Doug Barber.

On Wednesday my newspaper front page was filled with the story of Doug Barber. It starts...

" By his own admission Douglas Barber, a former army reservist, was struggling. For two years since returning from the chaos and violence of Iraq, the 35-year-old had battled with his memories and his demons, the things he had seen and the fear he had experienced. Recently, it seemed he had turned a corner, securing medical help and counselling.

But last week, at his home in south-eastern Alabama, the National Guardsman e-mailed some friends and then changed the message on his answering machine. His new message told callers: "If you're looking for Doug, I'm checking out of this world. I'll see you on the other side." Mr Barber dialled the police, stepped on to the porch with his shotgun and - after a brief stand-off with officers - shot himself in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene."

This fits in with what Osama bin Laden said in his last audiotape message...

"Pentagon figures show the number of your dead and wounded is increasing not to mention the massive material losses, the destruction of the soldiers' morale there and the rise in cases of suicide among them. So you can imagine the state of psychological breakdown that afflicts a soldier as he gathers the remains of his colleagues after they stepped on land mines that tore them apart. After this situation the soldier is caught between two hard options. He either refuses to leave his military camp on patrols and is therefore dogged by ruthless punishments enacted by the Vietnam Butcher (U.S. army) or he gets destroyed by the mines. This puts him under psychological pressure, fear and humiliation while his nation is ignorant of that (what is going on). The soldier has no solution except to commit suicide. That is a strong message to you, written by his soul, blood and pain, to save what can be saved from this hell."

The newsgroup Coalition For Free Thought In Media has tributes to Doug from the editor Jay Shaft and his mother and sister. His mother writes ...

"Thu Jan 26, 2006

By Martha Moore (Spc. Douglas A. Barber's Mother)

Published by Coalition For Free Thought In Media

I am the Mother of Douglas who took his life on Jan. 16, 2006. All I ask from everyone is to keep us in your thoughts and prayers in the days, weeks and months to come. As I am preparing to lay my Son to rest I hope that you keep my son's tour of duty in your hearts. Always remember he served his country with Pride and Dedication and to keep
each of us safe from Terrorism.

Also, please in his memory go to your Mother's tell them just how much you love, honor, and care for her. Give her your unconditional love, letting her know that she means the world to you. Be with her, protect and trust in her. Hug and kiss her every chance you can. No matter how old you are let her know that she is the most important person in your life. You only have one Mother! Tomorrow you may never have another chance. I will always love and miss my baby forever.

Martha Moore (Douglas A. Barber's Mother)"

His sister wrote ...

"Sat Jan 21, 2006
By Connie B.- Spc. Doug Barber's Sister

Published by Coalition For Free Thought In Media

Hi name is Connie and I am Doug Barber's full blooded sister. I want to say I do love and miss him very much. I just spent over a week with him after our father passed away in December, He was so happy to have me in his life, and he looked and acted like things were getting better. This turn of events this week has shaken up the family.

I believe in everything that he has been doing, but honestly, until now I did not think he was this bad with PTSD. I had not seen him since he left for war until just a couple of weeks ago. I knew he had problems but really thought a lot of it was from problems while growing up.

Doug and I never got to grow up together because I was adopted outside of the family until we were reunited back in late 80's.

Everyone please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as our family prepares to lay him to rest Saturday January 28th. Boy, I miss him already. He was my last brother.

I can not get involved with the political aspect of his PTSD because I am still in the service, but would like to understand more on what his beliefs were, and the involvements that he has been active in.


In an interview with Jay Shaft, the CFTM editor, starts by introducing Doug with

"I would like to introduce America to Specialist Douglas Barber. Doug went to Iraq in April of 2003 and did not come home until January2004. Since he has been home he has lost everything both financially and spiritually. He has lost six jobs, an eleven year marriage and is in extremely dire financial straights. He is balancing on the edge of complete bankruptcy and is in the process of selling a lot of his material possessions just to stay a few steps ahead of the bill collectors."

Stan Goff of Iraq Veterans Against the War writes a tribute to Doug which includes...

"We do know, from Doug's interviews, that the stress of those convoys - each confronting its participants with the possibility that this could be one's last road trip - were hard on Doug. In July 2003, his convoy was hit with an improvised explosive device, and the mortar attacks at Anaconda were so regular that they were almost a weather pattern. But Doug said there was something else that was even harder on him.

When the grunts came in, they would describe how many civilians they'd killed. When Doug was in a traffic jam one day, feeling very vulnerable, and the US units dismounted to clear the traffic jam - angry and afraid and waving weapons at the civilians - a woman in a bus held up her baby for them to see ... like that window-sign we see in cars on American highways, "Baby on Board." Only she wasn't cautioning other drivers to be careful. She was trying to prevent an armed attack that could kill her child. Doug may have decomped from medication, I don't know. That could have contributed to his suicide. It's possible."

There is a blog called Soldiers telling the truth about Iraq that was started by Doug Barber that links to a another blog called Soldier for truth that has a similar URL to Doug's blog but this has been deleted. I do not know why and how big it was or what period of time it covered.

I now add my own thoughts on this tragedy.

Different people cope with life in different ways. Some people have advanced coping mechanisms whilst others struggle from one crisis to another building up mountains of emotional baggage along the way. Doug has faired badly with his emotions and was unable to work through them and move on in his life. I do not think the medication helped, nor did the American attitudes of victim status. I feel sorry that Doug could not get his head around the realities of life in this world. It must be hard for his mother and sister feeling so helpless in preventing his suicide. Doug made the decision to take his own life, it was his call and no one else's. Peoples' mental health varies and stress can take it's toll over time. Stress is a patient killer waiting to strike at the weak, Doug was too weak to guard against the stress involved in the illegal war in Iraq. It is hard for me to be sympathetic to the tragedy when so many civilian lives have been lost since the illegal invasion of Iraq. It almost seems perverse that some justice has come out of this tragedy - a sort of righting of the wrongs of mans' inhumanity to man. Doug was just more cannon fodder for the American government, he served his time and now they do not have to pay any pension as he effectively sacked himself out of this world.
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