This Is What War Does

Broken By War, And Ordered Back
December 10, 2006
By LISA CHEDEKEL, Courant Staff Writer

Nothing was stranger for Mary Jane Fernandez than the events of last Christmas, which had her 24-year-old son, newly returned from the war in Iraq, downing sedatives, ranting about how rich people were allowed to sit in recliners in church, and summoning the Waterbury police to come arrest him.

This Christmas may top that.

Despite being diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and rated 70 percent disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Damian Fernandez has been called back to duty and told to prepare for another deployment to Iraq.

Two weeks ago, Fernandez, who was discharged from active duty in the Army last year and was working to settle back into civilian life, abruptly received orders to report to Fort Benning, Ga., on Jan. 14.

When the FedEx letter from the Army arrived Nov. 28, he calmly told his mother and girlfriend, “I got my orders,” staring hard at them with vacant eyes.

That night, he snapped. He told his girlfriend, Riella Darko, that he wanted to die and asked her to take him to the emergency room of St. Mary’s Hospital, where he was placed on a suicide watch. He has since been transferred to a locked ward in the Northampton VA Medical Center in Massachusetts.

Read it all here.

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