Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ex-Marine Vanishes After Combat 'Flashback'

Vet with combat flashbacks disappears


FLASHBACK" -- "He had an imaginary weapon in his

hand shooting imaginary people in the house."

Eric Hall, 24, who suffered serious injuries three years ago during a fatal explosion in Iraq, had recently moved from Indiana to Florida. He was staying with relatives on Sunday, Feb. 3, when he reportedly began having flashbacks and fled the home on his motorcycle. He has not been seen since. (photo from Charlotte County Sheriff's Office)

Story here... http://www.abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=4272624&page=1

Story below:


Ex-Marine Vanishes After Combat 'Flashback'

Florida Authorities Find Eric Hall's Motorcycle Running, but No Sign of Injured Iraq War Veteran


Relatives and volunteers -- some members of the military -- continued searching in Florida today for a former Marine who has been missing for a week and who may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Officials say 24-year-old Eric Hall took off on his motorcycle after experiencing what his family called a "combat flashback."

The bike was later found in the middle of a roadway in Deep Creek, near Fort Myers, on Florida's west coast. It was lying on its side with the engine running. There was no sign of Hall.

Hall, who was seriously injured three years ago in a bomb blast in Iraq, had recently moved from Indiana to Florida. He was staying with relatives on Sunday, Feb. 3, when he began "having flashbacks and walking around the home acting like he is shooting an invisible gun at people that are not in the home," according to a release by the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

"He had an imaginary weapon in his hand shooting imaginary people in the house," said Bob Carpenter, a Charlotte County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

A small fire was burning near the motorcycle, but authorities were not able to determine whether it was connected to the mysterious disappearance.

For two days last week, the sheriff's office led a search of the surrounding area for any sign of the former Marine. Deputies on horseback, K-9 units and swamp buggies combed what Carpenter described as a thickly covered area on the Gulf side of Florida.

The search also included helicopters, which Carpenter said were flown low over the area to produce an effect similar to a combat rescue.

"He could be hiding anywhere," Carpenter said. "He could have just taken off."

The ex-Marine suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from the bomb blast, his aunt and family spokesman Marge Baker told ABC News. The June 2005 explosion killed a fellow Marine and injured Hall's right arm, left leg, hip and the left side of his abdomen.

His injuries were so severe that he spent 13 weeks in military hospitals in Germany and Bethesda, Md. He has undergone nearly 20 operations since the explosion and was left with a permanent limp, Baker said. Hall was granted a medical retirement by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Carpenter said the sheriff's office has called off its formal search for Hall and will focus instead on the detective work necessary to follow up on tips as they stream in to authorities.

Family members, friends and volunteers have continued the ground search on their own, Baker said. Hall's mother has flown to Florida, while his father waits at home in Indiana in case their missing son calls or even returns to the house.

Baker said that Hall frequently would wake up in the night after having nightmares about combat. He had moved in January to Florida with the hope of putting his military experiences behind him. "While it is a disabling [injury], he didn't want it to be the forefront of him," Baker said. "He wanted a job, he wanted to get back into society and be meaningful to society."

But he also recently went off anti-anxiety medication, which Baker said the family believes may have something to do with his behavior the day he disappeared. "We believe that could be what triggered this," she said.

The behavior Hall was exhibiting could certainly be consistent with PTSD, which is often associated with combat veterans, according to Nadine J. Kaslow, a professor at Emory University's Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.

Kaslow described three ways in which PTSD can manifest itself for men and women back from war: "re-experience," in which a person continues to think intensely about combat situations; "avoidance," in which emotions associated with trauma are beaten back; and "hyper-arousal," in which a person may act abnormally paranoid or jumpy.

Flashbacks a common symptom of PTSD, Kaslow said, but added that hallucinations may go beyond the disorder into some type of psychosis.

Eric Hall is described as a white male, standing 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds. He has numerous tattoos, a scar on his leg from the combat explosion and may be wearing a black leather jacket and carrying a motorcycle helmet.


posted by Larry Scott
Founder and Editor
VA Watchdog dot Org

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