Photo: Stars and Stripes
Fifteen months in combat left Army Sgt. Robert Anthony Quinones, 29, with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.When all the help he could get from the Veterans Administration were 10-minute counseling sessions via video, he walked into a Ft. Stewart hospital ER, pointed his 9 mm at the nearest medic and demanded to be admitted into the psychiatric unit.
According to Stars and Stripes Quinones told hospital staff, “I need to see a psychiatrist or someone right now.”
When the officer in charge Major Sabon Sheldon entered, Quinones told him, “Every time I talk to somebody, they just throw meds at me, throw meds at me. Do you know how bad these meds make you feel? These meds make you feel horrible.”
Sheldon talked to Quinones for two hours at gunpoint about what led him to the hospital that night. When he was done, Quinones put his weapon down and was handed over to the military police.
Now he’s in a jail cell facing a string of felony charges including threats against the president while he was in a delusional state.
The son of a retired Sergeant Major Quinones joined the Army at 23 and the 15 months he spent in Iraq between 2006 and 2008 were the bloodiest of the war.
Engaged in daily firefights, his squad cleared villages of hostile forces for units that would come in and establish a permanent presence. On any given patrol his unit would see 10 to 15 bodies littering the road. His vehicle was hit by more than a dozen roadside bombs and he lost countless friends to IEDs and explosives.
When he got home he couldn’t sleep. “I’m back in Iraq when I’m in those nightmares,” he told Stars and Stripes. “Being scared and it’s … am I up to the challenge of actually kicking in that door?”
His recollection clouded by alcohol and sleeping pills, he barely recalls the day he entered the Ft. Stewart hospital.
Finally getting the treatment he’d requested, he is also facing up to 20 years in prison.
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