January 12, 2009
FORT LEWIS, Wash. — Josh Barber, former combat soldier, parked outside the Army hospital here one morning last August armed for war.
A cook at the dining facility, Barber sat in his truck wearing battle fatigues, earplugs and a camouflage hood on his head. He had an arsenal: seven loaded guns, nearly 1,000 rounds of ammunition, knives in his pockets. On the front seat, an AK-47 had a bullet in the chamber.
The “smell of death” he experienced in Iraq continued to haunt him, his wife says. He was embittered about the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that crippled him, the Army’s failure to treat it, and the strains the disorder put on his marriage.
Despite the firepower he brought with him, Barber, 31, took only one life that day. He killed himself with a shot to the head.
“He went to Fort Lewis to kill himself to prove a point,” Kelly Barber says. ” ‘Here I am. I was a soldier. You guys didn’t help me.’ ”