October 6th, 2009
03:20 PM ET

Soldier turns himself in after deserting

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.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Alexandra Poolos • Ismael Estrada • PTSD
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Heather - Spokane, WA

    I think the military should go easy on this man because he was in the right state of mind to say that he may be a threat to the safety and health of his fellow soldiers and to leave since he was not getting the help he needed. I am getting my degree in Psychology and I am mainly studying PTSD and trauma and I know people who have been in the military and they even say that it is hard for them to get any help and that some parts of the military do not consider PTSD to be an important health concern. Even some look down upon soldiers who get help for things like PTSD and they see them getting help for it as weak and in turn the soldier is seen as weak. PTSD will only get worse so things need to be changed for soldiers so they can get the help they need.

    October 6, 2009 at 8:30 pm |
  2. alicenyc

    He swore a oath, his action may have caused others to come in harms way. I am sure their are many whom feel like him. Its important for friends and family to really speak to the young woman and men who want to join. They are so young, I don't believe they can make that decison on their own. War is hard, and we have to try to support these folks. Next time you see an enlisted man or woman on the street stop them and shake their hand, tell them Thank you and Godbless you.

    October 6, 2009 at 7:35 pm |
  3. heather

    I think this was the right thing for him to do. I think we need to ensure that we take care of the troops not just while they are in the feild but when they get home. IT is very important.

    October 6, 2009 at 7:35 pm |
  4. Aaron

    its a shame that a government that spends our tax money to train, feed, and equip an army in all ways. then asks our soldiers to put their lives in danger and "fight the good fight" in another country in the harshest of conditions. And when our heroes come home they forget about them, or treat them like just like nothing ever happenned. God only knows what they have seen, done, and been through. Im ashamed to say that our country that spends untelling how much money on our military, can't for some reason get our HEROES the help they need, mentally, physically, financially, etc.

    October 6, 2009 at 7:09 pm |
  5. Elizabeth

    All the more reason to bring them home . Enough already. Help them when they get out . They should be taken for help immediatly after coming home. I dont blame him either. At least he turned himself in.

    October 6, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  6. Ron G.

    Here is one guy who caught himself and said "hey, not only am I a danger to myself, but I may be a danger to someone else. I give him credit for that eventhough It probably could have been handled differently. How many of these desertion cases do we actually see on a regular basis? Not many, which leads me to believe that there is help available somewhere. I'm sure he is not the only suffering PTS!

    October 6, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  7. Melissa

    For some reason "support the troops" doesn't seem to extend to their health, or after their service. Its disgusting. He may have been AWOL but honestly, I can't really blame him.

    October 6, 2009 at 3:30 pm |