The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 16, 2013

Vet who saved many in Iraq couldn’t escape demons

(Continued)

Amy Linnerooth says her husband was very remorseful. “He thought that was a really stupid thing to do to the kids and us,” she says. She was convinced he’d never try to harm himself again.

By late 2009, though, his marriage was failing and his job was in jeopardy.

Houlihan, his colleague, approached him. “This just isn’t working well,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out how we can salvage your career.”

The professor expected Linnerooth to be defensive. Instead, he was relieved to confront the problems.

He was given an extended leave and headed west to start a new life.

————

McNabb had invited his pal to him join him at the Santa Cruz County Vet Center in California.

He arrived looking terrible, but soon shed 50 pounds and shaved his long beard. He moved in across the street from McNabb. They spent nights chatting over beers.

Linnerooth liked his new surroundings but his ongoing divorce and separation from his kids weighed on him. Still, he remained an attentive, loving father. He’d fly to Minnesota often and while in California, he’d call his children, Jack, 9, and Whitney, 6, every night. He’d read to his son; he created a cartoon series for his daughter featuring a spider they called Gigerenzer. He’d Skype with his kids, too, content just to watch them watch TV.

Linnerooth also felt his work as a veterans’ readjustment counselor was helping people. He spoke at symposiums about the emotional trauma of war. With McNabb, he conducted a suicide prevention class for an Army Reserve unit, even as he himself was being treated for his own PTSD.

He became more vocal about the strains on military psychologists. Linnerooth talked about the pressures to The New York Times and Time. He told the magazine in 2010 “the Army has been criminally negligent,” in not having enough mental health experts to serve combat vets, putting a bigger burden on those trying to do the job.

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