Combat Veteran calls for help, ends up in jail

By Faye Higbee

North Carolina – Ryan Broderick, a US Army combat veteran, has been fighting the PTSD movie that plays over and over in his head every day since he was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Explosion after explosion goes off in his thoughts continually. In January, he called the VA when he was frustrated and sleep-deprived. But the government immediately viewed him as a threat and locked him up.

combat veteran

The Broderick Family handout- via the News Observer/Broderick Family photo

Now a ‘Threat to America’

Broderick told the VA that if he didn’t get the help he needed for his post-traumatic stress disorder, he would bring a gun to the VA hospital and Fort Bragg and start shooting.  After 10 minutes of ranting, the VA finally let him speak with a crisis counselor who was medically trained in his condition.

“I was just trying to get help. I had no intention of hurting anybody.” Ryan Broderick

For 56 minutes, Ryan spoke with the counselor. Feeling much calmer, he then told her he didn’t mean anything he said previously and thanked her for listening. They hung up. But then the counselor started feeling worried and called authorities.

The first order of business was to issue an involuntary psychiatric commitment, something he had no idea had been issued. When a counselor called him the next morning, she noted that he was not suicidal or homicidal in her comments.

The government response from hell

31 hours after his phone call to the VA, and just 10 minutes after the involuntary order had expired, Ryan Broderick was surrounded by 10 Federal agents with guns and arrested as he waited outside the Day Care his son was attending. The agents forced Ryan and his wife Delgada to their knees, as he forced himself to not freak out at the sight of guns and flashing lights.

There was no gun in their car, as he had pawned it a week prior to pay bills.

He was sent to the Edgecombe county jail, and sat there for months, with PTSD aggravating his life.

Mandy Locke  and Martha Quillin wrote in an article in the The News Observer,

Jail is aggravating his PTSD. He can’t sleep in the bunk he is assigned for fear of being caught off-guard by an attacker. He drags his mat to the wall, instead, and presses his back against the concrete wall.

One benefit to being in jail is that he was prescribed medicine to help with anxiety and depression. He has yet to see a therapist.

Over the last several weeks, federal prosecutors filed motions to block Broderick’s attorneys from telling a jury anything about his PTSD. They have also asked a judge to bar any evidence about recent problems with the Veterans Affairs administration’s ability to see and treat patients.

Until late last week, Broderick said his lawyers prepared for trial, having been unable to negotiate a manageable plea arrangement.

The Call for help answered wrongly

He was slated to appear before Judge W. Earl Britt on June 1, 2015. The Judge was visibly upset with the prosecution, who had never offered Broderick a diversion program or any other kind of assistance that would have spared him the criminal charge.

Broderick agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault so that his service record would not be permanently tarnished.

Judge Britt has the power to release Mr. Broderick in lieu of time served. The sentencing is set for Thursday at 11 a.m.

A call for help, a need for understanding went awry, and Mr. Broderick is not the only one who has experienced it. Until both law enforcement and VA counselors are trained enough not to treat veterans as enemies to be locked up, good men are at risk. This treatment of our veterans is part and parcel of an anti-gun, anti-military agenda by the current administration.