By: Greg Mitchell
Sean Webster was helping other severely wounded Iraq vets cope with their injuries but, in the end, apparently could not quite save himself.
For the past year, Sgt. Sean Webster, 23, had worked in Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendleton, aiding sailors and Marines wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan get much-needed medical and psychological care.
Just two weeks ago he was featured in a front-page story on this effort in the local North County Times newspaper. “I’m a wounded Marine and I know what these guys are going through,'” he said.
Webster had been severely injured by an anti-tank mine explosion in September 2005 and underwent 14 surgeries on an arm and a leg.
The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday: “At the Wounded Warrior Battalion, he felt at home. He was the barracks manager and provided encouragement to the other guys, urging them not to get despondent. Forty-one troops live at the barracks. Staffers are tracking another 600 to make sure they’re getting appropriate help.
“Like many wounded Marines, Webster wanted to remain in the Corps. ‘What I’d really like to do is stay as a staff member here,’ he told the newspaper.”
On June 23, Webster’s body was found in an isolated part of the base. It was quickly ruled not an accident and homicide was not immediately ruled out. But now the Naval Criminal Investigate Service is probing the death as a “probable” suicide. There is a veritable epidemic of suicides among Iraq vets these days.
His father told The Washington Post today: “He didn’t really talk much about his work, but he seemed to like it a lot, and he seemed to really have a sense of camaraderie with the guys who were there. He himself almost never complained about his injuries. The only thing I really heard him get angry about was he couldn’t put deodorant on… and he couldn’t really tie his boots.”
His funeral is set for 2 p.m. tomorrow at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, Va.
Greg Mitchell’s new book includes several chapters on Iraq vet suicides. It is titled So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits — and the President — Failed on Iraq.