Iraq War Vet on Afghan Killings

, Written by Craig Smullin, Posted: Mon, March 12 2012 at 5:20 PM, Updated: Mon, March 12 2012 at 5:33 PM

No one is justifying an unspeakable act like the murder of civilians...yet the stress of war is  constant for US forces in combat heavy areas like Iraq and Afghanistan... so to hear something this horrible, sadly... is something many veterans may have seen coming.
   As a Sergent in the US Army for 6 years Josh McCollum served two tours in Iraq... and he isn't shocked to hear news that a US soldier killed 16 unarmed civilians in Afghanistan.
   "It doesn't surprise me at all, this happens to soldiers."
    The 28 year old Rogue Community College student says multiple long deployments, coupled with unyielding pressure...     "It's push, push, push, push."... bends people until they break.
   "How do they not expect us to, to... fall under that pressure and break."
   McCollum says he was born to be in the military, following in his dad's footsteps... and he relished leading good men and women into battle in places nicknamed RPG alley... but he had his moments.
    "There's been points where I thought I was gonna break or where I thought what was happening to me."
      Like he was trained McCollum focused on the battle at hand... but after injuries forced him out...
   "Once I started thinking the PTSD hit... I became very angry, very irritated, family life got horrible, I blamed everybody but myself."
       Unlike many in the military the father of two sought help, and it worked, slowly over time things have improved.
    "I got lucky, because the help I actually went for, it worked."
    McCollum hopes others like him seek help as well, and he hopes the military considers its role in what makes soldiers snap.
    "The military doesn't look at how many times you've been out there and what you do... and be like... 'Oh wow you've been through a lot you need to take a break, you need to go talk to somebody.'... As soldiers we don't like to go talk to somebody."
   Last week the results of a new study from the US Army Public Health Command were released -- they say suicide rates among soldiers have risen 80-percent since 2004.
     Researchers say about two-thirds of the cases involved service members who'd been deployed in active combat.

About the Author

Craig Smullin

NBC5 News Director Craig Smullin co-anchors NBC5 News at 6 and hosts the 5 on 5 Feature Interview on NBC5 News at 5.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Craig graduated from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California with a degree in Recreation Administration and Sports Management.

Since joining NBC5 News in 2005, Craig has performed virtually every job in the newsroom: News and Sports Reporter, Sports Anchor, Producer, series and segment Host and Anchor of NBC5 News at Sunrise and NBC5 News at 5. He became News Director in January, 2014.

When he's not managing a busy newsroom, Craig spends time with his wife, two young sons and two dogs. He is a dedicated fan of the San Francisco 49ers and Portland Trailblazers and loves snow boarding the slopes of Mt. Ashland.

Catch Craig co-anchoring with Christine Pitawanich weekdays on NBC 5 News at 6pm.

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