"We Kill Ourselves Because We Are Haunted" by Jennifer Percy.
A story at Guernica that, while not saying much we don't already know about the appalling lack of care for returning veterans, is compelling nonetheless. An excerpt from Percy's book, Demon Camp, the story follows Sergeant Caleb Daniels through coming home, trying out Native American medicine man treatments, and nearly killing himself until a friend calls and interrupts. Holy smokes.
As someone with a little brother in the Army, these kinds of stories horrify me. (Luckily, he hasn't seen battle yet, and I'm hoping he never does.) I've read lots of stories on PTSD and post-combat soldiers—the recently deceased Matthew Power's "Confessions of a Drone Warrior" sticks out as a memorable one—but none have quite articulated exactly what it means to be haunted after a war like Daniels and Percy do.
“This thing,” he said, “this big, black thing—it can come after anyone. It can come after you and kill you and it will try to destroy you. It’s no joke.”
The Black Thing.
He said it does not represent anything and that it’s like nothing we know here in this world. He said it’s not a metaphor because there are no metaphors for this kind of evil. It was shadow. It was death. It was the gathered souls of all his dead friends.
“Do you know when it’s coming?” I said.
He put his hands out on either side of him, palms ﬂat as if he were trapped inside a box. “I’ll be in a room just like this one,” he said, “and all at once the windows will go dark. And then the Black Thing just sort of seeps in.”
It's worth noting that the US Department of Veteran Affairs has a list of resources for those suffering.