Alexandra Poolos and Ismael Estrada
Jerri Hyde first sent Anderson an email in July. In it, she wrote that her sons Donald and Daniel had both served in Iraq. Dan, 23, worked as an explosives expert in the Marines, and Don, 25, had been in the Army. Both, Jerri wrote, now suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and weren't getting the help they needed.
"I am writing because I feel Mr. Cooper just might be the one to listen," Jerri wrote. "My sons are suffering PTSD after serving our country. And getting no help. I don't understand this."
Jerri's email arrived after visiting her younger son Dan in Texas.
When we first called her, Jerri told us that Dan's problems seemed minor when compared to his older brother Don’s, who had deserted the military almost six months ago after reenlisting for another tour of duty. Don didn't know what to do now that he deserted the army. Jerri didn't know where he was hiding, just that he was somewhere in their home state of Illinois. For three months, the family kept in touch, and then finally in late September, Don reached out and said he wanted to talk.
Don was on the run and was getting tired of looking over his shoulder. He was ready to turn himself in and face the reality of his decision to abandon his duties.
According to the army, the penalties for desertion can be quite steep. He could receive up to 5 years of confinement, forfeiture of all pay, and a dishonorable discharge.
Still, Don showed up at the Illinois State Police station with his mother, father-in-law and girlfriend. He was emotional, but ready to turn himself in. He says leaving was a good decision because he was worried that he would hurt himself or a fellow soldier while he was in the army. His only regret was re-enlisting.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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