The Madeleine Brand Show for August 17, 2012

Father of Navy suicide victim shares his son's story

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A military chorus sings during a memorial service at the Pentagon September 11, 2011 in Arlington, Virginia.

According to his father, Josh Lipstein was a happy-go-lucky kid who decided to enlist in the military after 9-11. Josh served two tours in Iraq, working with unit that patrolled Iraq's rivers.

Upon his return, Josh began experiencing hearing loss. Doctors eventually discovered a tumor in his brain, but after an operation to remove it, the young man became hooked on pain killers.

As his father, Don Lipstein tells it, Josh was afraid to talk about his addiction to military doctors. But he shared his problem with his dad, who was able to get him admitted to a Navy detox program.

After he got out, he was supposed to go immediately into rehab, but "someone dropped the ball," Lipstein says.

On March 15, 2011, Don called his son. He says he could immediately tell something was very, very wrong. After about a fifteen minute conversation, Josh said goodbye. A few moments later, the 23-year-old veteran shot himself in the head.

Lipstein doesn't blame the Navy. "Could they have done some things differently? Yes. Could I have done some things differently? Yes. Certainly Josh could have made some different choices, and tried to seek the proper help," he said.

Lipstein says it's not just a problem for the Navy, or the Veterans Administraion. "We all have the responsibility," he says, "to help members of the military make the often difficult transition to life at home."

Guest:


Don Lipstein, father of a Navy veteran who committed suicide.


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