The war abroad killed Shawn Bleeker at home.


 

In late winter, I rented a car and traveled north to Ozark, Alabama, to the home of Shawn Bleeker. Shawn had served as an Army helicopter pilot and instructor. He deployed four times, to Bosnia, Colombia, Honduras, and Afghanistan. An 18-year veteran, he was
just two years from retirement. He lived on a beautiful property by a lake. His two sons raced motocross there. His two daughters
often spent time in the garden. Shawn and his wife, not yet even forty, were two years from an early retirement. 

But Shawn struggled with PTSD, and his behavior became erratic. He started building a bunker behind the house, filling it with food
and weapons. The war had followed him home. Then, one evening, he drove to an empty field behind a hotel on the edge of town and shot himself.