The Valley has claimed another life as Master Sgt. Andrew Christian Marckesano, a decorated Green Beret and a Silver Star recipient with the 82nd Airborne Division, has died by suicide, another victim in the epidemic that the Trump Administration is trying to stop.
“Captain America,” as he was known to his friends, returned home from dinner with his former battalion leader in Old Town Alexandria on July 6th and died by suicide in front of his wife. His death shocked those close to him, as the hero, who was still on active duty, had just moved to Washington, D.C. to start a new job at the Pentagon.
The 34-year-old Master Sergeant is the 30th member of the elite battalion to kill himself, according to the New York Post.
Master Sgt. Marckesano served six full tours of duty in Afghanistan, but his friends and family relate that he could not get past his 2009 tour in Afghanistan’s Arghandab Valley with the 2-508 battalion, which had one of the highest mortality rates in the war.
The battle space known as the Devil’s Playground is the Arghandab River Valley, which lies 60 miles northwest of the Pakistan border, in southern Afghanistan, and stretches a mile and more on each side of the Arghandab River, to the north and west of Kandahar City. Since the 2001 invasion, U.S. troops have come and gone from the Valley in the battle for Kandahar. Canadians and Soviet troops have been unsuccessful and it seems to be left up to American and Afghan forces to secure the Valley or risk losing Kandahar.
“That deployment was like being in the ring with Mike Tyson for a year,” the battalion’s former Command Sgt. Major Bert Puckett told Fox News.
“My administration is marshaling every resource to stop the crisis of veteran suicide and protect our nation’s most treasured heroes. They’ve been through so much, and it’s such a deep-seated problem,” President Trump said. The president recognized the plight of losing 20 combat veterans each day to suicide and launched the PREVENTS Task Force to help veterans to overcome post-traumatic stress and mental health issues last month.
Just days before he died, Marckesano sent a message of encouragement to his fellow soldiers: Text me, I told you before my door is open . . . my phone is at hand. We did things that people make movies about and in some cases, writers and producers wouldn’t even try to write our story . . . the rucksack is heavy . . . and when it gets heavy we [&$#*] help each other, but you have to reach out . . . Don’t let the Valley win,” according to Fox News.
“My administration is marshaling every resource to stop the crisis of veteran suicide and protect our nation’s most treasured heroes,” Trump said. “They’ve been through so much, and it’s such a deep-seated problem.”
There is also a 24/7 Veterans Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255. The VA now has same-day access for emergency mental health care. Under the Trump Administration, veterans have a right to seek private-sector care, at the VA’s expense, if the VA can’t provide timely care directly to the veteran.