Michael Goss, 29, served two tours in Iraq. He struggles with severe PTSD and is awaiting treatment from the Veterans Administration. He has been waiting for over a year. In his own words:
I gave the Army seven years. One night they said to me, "Sgt. Goss, gather your best guys." I say, "Where we going?" They say, "Don't worry about it, just come on." We drive three blocks away, and there's six dead soldiers on the ground. They say, "You're casualty collecting tonight." So you pick them up, and you put them in a body bag, pieces by pieces.
It gets to the point where they numb you. They numb you to death. They numb you to anything. In Iraq you had a way to deal with it, because they kept pushing you back out there. “Hey, I just shot four people today.” Yeah, and in about four hours you're going to go back out, and you'll probably shoot six more.
I have PTSD. I know when I got it -- the night I killed an 8-year-old girl. Her family was trying to cross a checkpoint. We'd just shot three guys who'd tried to run a checkpoint. And during that mess, they were just trying to get through to get away from it all. And we ended up shooting all them, too. It was a family of six. The only one that survived was a 13-month-old and her mother. And the worst part about it all was that where I shot my bullets, when I went to see what I'd shot at, there was an 8-year-old girl there. I tried my best to bring her back to life, but there was no use. But that's what triggered my depression.
I get three nights off a week. And I drink and take pills to help me sleep at night. Once in a while one of my old soldiers will call me, drunk off his ass, crying about the stuff he saw in Iraq. And all I can do is tell him, "You and me both are going to have to find a way to work this out." That's the only thing I can tell him.
So let's put this in perspective now. I got two Iraq tours, multiple kills, I picked up plenty of dead bodies, American bodies, enemy bodies. I come back home. My wife finds somebody else. I'm sleeping on my brother's couch while she has the apartment, the kids, the car, everything that we worked on together. I work as a bail bondsman making $432 a week. Don't tell me I'm cured all of a sudden, because I'm not. I still have my nightmares, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, I still see the glitter from the IED blowing up when I'm going down the street.
I killed an 8-year-old girl, which still haunts me to this day. I still see the barrette in her hair when I carried her out of the car to the ambulance when she was bleeding all over me. I still see all that. And there's nothing that I can do about that now.