Spc. Kenneth Jacobs death a year ago and tragedy goes on

"This is a cross post in full. A soldier's widow needs help for justice.

Soldier from Holly Springs dies
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

HOLLY SPRINGS (WTVD) -- The Army is investigating the death of a Schofield Barracks soldier from North Carolina found dead on base earlier this week.

Spc. Kenneth Jacobs, a 22-year-old from Holly Springs, N.C., was found unconscious and not breathing Monday.

Paramedics tried to revive him but were unsuccessful and declared him dead at the scene.
Jacobs was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He moved to Hawaii in 2006. He returned in October from a deployment to Iraq.

I receive a lot of emails, heart tugging emails, and once in a while the sender is begging for help. They feel they are out of hope and out of help. This is one of them. I was asked to post this and I'm doing it praying someone out there can help this widow get the justice denied her husband.

Huffing deaths are not suicide. They are doing it to seek relief. Spc. Jacobs was put on Zoloft and we all know there are problems with this. You can't give them medication this strong and simply hope for the best without any kind of therapy. Yet when Spc. Jacobs was found dead in the barracks, that was the end of it. There were no more follow up stories of yet one more non-combat death not counted. Not one more headline grabbing story of a young soldier's death following PTSD and not treated properly. Above all of this no story of the young widow and her children left behind with no income, no death insurance and no help from the military under survivors benefits. Read her story and if you can help her, contact me and I'll give you her contact information. There has to be help for her out there somewhere. My God! Do we really support the troops and honor military families or don't we?

I’m writing to you to tell you about my husband, SPC. Kenneth Robert Jacobs who passed away on June 23rd 2008.

Ken graduated basic training from Ft. Benning GA , in August 2006 and was stationed at Schoffield Barracks in Hawaii. The unit that he was assigned to was already in Iraq and he joined them there in Nov. 2006. Ken’s duties in Iraq included house to house searches, guard duty, tower duty, and gunner on Humvees. During Ken’s 1 year deployment his hummer had been hit by 4 IED’s. He never complained about being there and said he knew they were helping the Iraqi people. Ken was the only one in his unit that received The Leader of The Pack award twice while deployed.

His deployment ended in Nov. 2007 and Ken said they all had to have a physical and debriefing before they could come home. He said they were told how to answer any questions asked, if they wanted to go home right away and not to stay for more evaluation. They were told that nightmares were normal and would go away in time, and not to mention anything they had to do over there to anyone. He was also told “anyone who had been hit with an IED go stand in that line” which he did. Then they were all asked as a group “who wants more testing done?” and no one raised their hands. Ken said he “didn’t want to look like a loser in front of the other guys” so he didn’t raise his hand.

Because Ken had answered all of the questions “correctly” he got to come home on leave for 4 weeks. After his leave him and I flew back to Hawaii and got married. Myself and my 3 year old daughter moved to Hawaii in Feb. 2008.

At this time I noticed that Ken became very angry easily. His drinking was out of control and he would have terrible nightmares, thrashing around in bed. We were getting into terrible fights and one night the MP’s were called. Ken had to see a Psychiatrist and told him about some of the things he had to do and things he saw in Iraq . The doctor told him “No wonder you’re messed up!” This doctor diagnosed him with PTSD and put him on Zoloft. I believe this was in March of 2008. After this he really wasn’t getting any better. In May of 2008 I was out on the porch and heard Ken yelling at my 3 year old to go out the window. He was screaming “Go! Go! Go!” Then fell to the floor and started to have some type of seizure. When it was over, he got up and sat in a chair and started typing on the computer. I asked Kenny “What just happen?” and he didn’t remember any of it. I told him he needed go back to the doctor. He went back to the doctor and told him what happen and he increased his Zoloft.

That’s it! No counseling for him or I to understand what was going on, nothing.

The two of us were still fighting horribly and after another blowout he decided to spend the night at the barracks with his buddies on June 22, 2008. Ken went to his detail the next morning and we made up. We had an OBGYN appointment that morning, because I was 4 months pregnant, and Ken was going to meet me there. He asked his friend if he could take a nap in his room until the appointment and his friend said yes. That was around 9:00am. His friend came back to his room at 1:00pm and found Kenny lying in bed not moving. He rolled him over to find Ken had passed away in his sleep.

Because Ken was found alone in the room there was a criminal investigation. They determined there was no foul play and ruled his death accidental. The initial autopsy report did not show anything so all of Ken’s reports and test were sent to DC to be analyzed to determine cause of death. After waiting for 4 months the doctor who wrote the autopsy report said there were no drugs or alcohol in Ken’s system. They also didn’t find any Zoloft which I knew he took every day. The only thing they could find was a trace of difluoroethane which is a common ingredient in “dust-off” So in his opinion, this was probably Ken’s cause of death.

The investigators did find one can of dust-off in the room behind the T.V. on the opposite side of the room where Ken was found. According to the National Institute on Drug abuse the key danger of inhalant abuse is Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. This is when a huffer dies within seconds of taking a hit of the inhalant, usually from heart failure. Since the only can of dust-off was found on the other side of the room on a shelf behind a T.V, wouldn’t this cause of death be unlikely? I may never know how my husband died, and nothing will bring him back. But I do know the Army did not provide him or I with counseling for his diagnosed PTSD. He was given medication and told that would solve all of his problems. Ken was scheduled for deployment again in Nov. 2008

Why isn’t there a program in place for these soldiers to get the help they need when returning home from deployment? Why are these kids given a choice to get counseling, and make it seem like punishment, or an embarrassment? Scheduled counseling should be mandatory when a soldier is put on any anti-depressant or antipsychotic medication. More intense screening should be done to determine brain injury for soldiers who had been hit with IED’s. Sgt. Sipes (kens team leader) told me that “one of the IED’s that they hit was so bad that Kenny was bleeding from his ears. He and Ken were taken to a Med Aide station to be observed for 48 hours but no tests were done.

He said Ken was never the same after that. He was always the comic relief guy, he said. Ken would make light of any situation they were in, and always had a smile on his face. He told me after that day his personality changed. He kept to himself and the sgt. knew that there was something wrong with him. They came home shortly after that. Sgt. Sipes was one of the soldiers who found Ken that terrible day and tried to revive him.

My husband was 21 years old. He left behind a wife, stepdaughter, mother, 2 younger brothers, sister, grandparents, many friends, and a son who he will never get to see.

Please don’t let this happen to another soldier, or family. Better screening of Traumatic Brain Injuries and mandatory counseling for returning solders’ who are prescribed anti depressants or anti psychotic medication should be our governments’ top priority.

Because of the autopsy determination myself and my children have been denied the VA's DIC benefits. My husband had not changed his beneficiary from his mother to me after our marriage of which he was supposed to be counseled on and never was after our marriage. My mother in-law has received the insurance money. She does not help me out. I am on SSI and live with my mother, daughter, son, brother, sister and nephew. Why am I and my family being punished for what the military has "determined" to be my husband’s cause of death? Why didn't my husband receive the help he needed instead of the medications handed out like candy. If my husband had been receiving help for his diagnosed PTSD this would never have happened. Now, I am without my husband. My children without a father. How are families of soldiers that commit suicide awarded the benefits and not mine? Isn’t it time the military supported it's soldiers and their families? Please help me to receive the DIC benefits that my husband's family deserves for his service to our country.

It is time the military stands behind its families of the soldiers that have served our country. Death should not be discriminated and families should not suffer any more then they have. If a soldier gives up and commits suicide the family is taken care of. These families have a right to know that if what the servicemen and women are asked to do and if what they have seen affects them mentally, their service to our country is forgotten and the surviving family’s will also be forgotten.

We have also been in contact with Mrs.XXXXX. Her husband passed away days after Kenny from the same circumstances. She was told before she received the death certificate that the cause of death would need to be changed in order for her to receive her benefits (which read the same on my husband’s certificate). She did so before applying and has received the benefits. We were not told this. Also, her husband did not receive the help he also deserved to prevent his death from happening. We are not alone and unfortunately unless mandatory counseling is given to these soldiers no mater the rank, there will be more of us. Please help us with our fight for our survivor benefits, to reclassify my husband’s death, and to enforce counseling for these soldiers to prevent this from happening. My husband did not die from huffing, an overdose or suicide. My husband’s death was clearly service related and he never came home from Iraq.

How can this be ignored?


Chriscedia D. Jacobs


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