This short film about the death of veteran Ryan Yurchison is heart wrenching, but tells a truth about one deadly consequence of the PTSD many of our combat veterans are struggling with. Filmmaker Timothy Grucza tells the story of how Ryan became addicted to prescription pills that were originally intended to help treat his PTSD, but which eventually led to his death.
According to the NYT Op-Doc by Grucza:
Specialist Ryan Yurchison served in Iraq in 2006, and three years after returning home, he overdosed on a fatal cocktail of drugs. His family now believes his death was a suicide.
Ryan was racked with the guilt of seeing three of his comrades die in a truck bomb attack. He was the sentry that day and blamed himself. After returning home, the Department of Veterans Affairs prescribed drugs to help him deal with this trauma; when those weren’t enough, he began using heroin.
According to his mother and friends, Ryan sought help for his addiction with the VA and was told he would have to wait six months for treatment. Ryan’s mother, Cherry, went to the VA herself after her son showed her a film he made detailing the misery of his life. Ryan’s film ended with him killing himself. Cherry assumes that no one at the VA even saw the film.
In the film, Judge Robert P. Milich, and advocate for Veteran’s Rights, says this:
“The answer to the VA is political, it has to be political. Enough people have to be involved and want the change, and I don’t know if you really have that groundswell for people to really force that. That’s not on the radar right now. What are we looking at? Jobs, the economy? We’re not looking at veterans as a high priority.”
What do you think? What can we do we make veterans a higher priority?