“The Army denied Spc. Brandon Barrett a military funeral.” Why? Is it because he had a shootout with police or because what they did not do could have prevented it? That is the question an investigation seeks to understand.
After he was killed by police, after there was nothing left to be done for him, that is when his family learned how much what he witnessed did to him. What if they knew all along? What if they knew how to help him or at least understood how much pain he was in, would things have ended differently?
There is a family left behind with so many questions they may never find the answers to. There is a police officer dealing with being shot and other officers involved trying to understand why it ever reached that point.
Army says Afghan losses affected Lewis-McChord soldier killed by police
An Army investigation has found that a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who was killed when he opened fire on police in Utah last year was deeply affected by his deployment to Afghanistan.
By The Associated Press
TUCSON, Ariz. — An Army investigation has found that a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who was killed when he opened fire on police in Utah last year was deeply affected by his deployment to Afghanistan.
Spc. Brandon Barrett deserted his unit, suffered an apparent mental breakdown and died in a shootout with Salt Lake City police on Aug. 27. A police officer was wounded.
The Army report provided to his family in Tucson and shared with the Arizona Daily Star concluded he saw so much mayhem during his yearlong deployment that he was deeply affected.
At least three times during his year overseas with the 5th Stryker Brigade, Barrett, a 28-year-old infantryman, saw comrades killed or wounded by suicide bombers or explosives.
“Spc. Barrett had experienced significant losses in combat that affected his behavior and actions leading up to the incident” in which he died, the report said.
The report recommended several changes to help troops returning from combat to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Those include a telephone hotline and better documentation of AWOL soldiers.
Officials at the base were slow to react and failed to notify the soldier’s family when the first hints of trouble surfaced, according to the report. Those oversights have left his family agonizing over whether the death was preventable.
“My family and I strongly believe that if notification had been made in a timely manner, Brandon would be with us here today,” Shane Barrett, a Tucson police detective, said of his younger brother. “We could have at least had the opportunity to help him.”
The Army denied Barrett a military funeral, enraging many combat veterans.
His parents didn’t even know he was AWOL.
After his DUI, Brandon Barrett came to Tucson to stay with his parents, Gail and Bill Barrett, on what they assumed was a normal leave. They didn’t learn until weeks later that their youngest son had gone AWOL and was sending dark messages to comrades.
So after all of this, the Army denied him a military funeral. They finished the job of denying him the help he should have received, denied his family the right to know what was going on with their son and then removed themselves from him all together with the final betrayal of denying him an honorable funeral.
Slowly the military has been honoring the suicide deaths of soldiers but this death was as close to a suicide as there can be, but after all, the Army viewed it as another AWOL soldier getting into trouble with little regard as to why he became that way.
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