Family of Maryville marine blames PTSD, not police for his death

10:29 PM, Apr 5, 2013   |    comments
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We often hear the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when we talk about our veterans fighting wars. But a Maryville marine's family says it became all too real for them a few weeks ago.

Friday the family laid Theodore Jones IV or "TJ" to rest at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery with full military honors.

"He gave his all to the country and it was important to be able to give him the honors that he deserved," said Jones' sister, Stephanie Kirk. "He was proud to be a marine. He was proud to stand for his country."

Jones wasn't killed on the battlefield, but his family says the emotional wounds he suffered there caused his death.

"The diagnoses went back and forth between PTSD and anxiety disorders, depending on which piece of paper you're looking at," said Kirk.

Nearly three weeks ago, Jones was shot by Maryville police. He had barricaded himself in a vacant business at 2:30 in the morning and was shooting at police and a moving vehicle.

His family says it happened on the anniversary of a violent situation Jones was involved in Afghanistan where he was airlifted out. The family says on the night of his death, he was having a flashback.

"He lived in constant fear that the Iraqi Guard would come at night and take him," she said. "He had nightmares. He struggled in public. He wanted his back against the corner of a wall he wanted to be able to see people coming at him."

Jones served for 6 years and completed two combat tours before retiring with a disability.

He visited Blount County's Veterans Affairs office where Officer Nathan Weinbaum caught a glimpse of his suffering.

"He had a lot of friends that were killed, a lot of traumatic situations. It's hard to return here to people who don't know what that's like," Weinbaum said.

Kirk said they do not blame police and understand they did what they were trained to do. Instead, she sees his death as a chance to tell his story and his battle with PTSD.

"He did ask for help. We've got copies of letters that he sent to his command. He did receive some treatment and some medicine. He had just been at the VA two weeks before this happened. But I don't think that there's enough," she said.

She said more resources and need to be made available to our wounded warriors.

Kirk said her family will not only remember TJ as a brave marine, but as their son, brother, husband, friend, and father.

"He was very loving and very caring. He played jokes on us and he loved to do what brothers do," she said.

Jones leaves behind a wife, an 18-month old child and another little girl on the way.

Blount County Veterans Affairs Office encourages anyone dealing with PTSD symptoms to go to your veteran's services office or the VA hospital.

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