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When Staff Sgt. Brad Eifert, 36, finally made his way to the woods behind his house with a .45 calibre pistol, he was a soldier at the end of his rope.
Recently back from Iraq, suicide was something he’d discussed openly with his commander, his family, and his Army doctor The New York Times reports.
But in 2010 in the dark woods with the pistol pressed to his temple he was unable to pull the trigger.
Instead he turned the weapon away, firing nine rounds into a nearby tree.
The police on the street, taking cover where they could, thought he was firing at them, so it’s surprising that when Eifert ran weaponless into the driveway screaming “Shoot me! Shoot me! Shoot Me!” — that they didn’t — they only Tasered him.
He had planned on committing “suicide by cop,” making him one of the 18 veterans that commit suicide every day in the United States. Instead he became one of the 1 million veterans sitting in jail — one in 10 of all prisoners.
Courts are only recently finding ways to deal with this startling epidemic. The Times reports:
[S]omething different happened in Mr. Eifert’s case. Headed for disaster, he was spared through a novel court program and an unusual coming together of a group of individuals — including a compassionate judge, a flexible prosecutor, a tenacious lawyer and an amenable police officer — who made exceptions and negotiated compromises to help him…
On Aug. 2, Mr. Eifert, having pleaded guilty to a single charge of carrying a weapon with unlawful intent, a felony, will officially enter the veterans court program. He separated from the Army on June 9. Twelve to 18 months from now, if he adheres to the strict regimen of treatment through the Veterans Affairs hospital in Battle Creek and supervision set by the court, the charge could be dismissed or reduced to a misdemeanour.