KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Memorial Day is also a reminder, for some families, that some wounds of war continue long after a return from duty.
Eight years ago this weekend, an Iraq War veteran was killed by Kansas City police during a stand-off, a situation that was triggered by PTSD, family said.
26-year-old Sergeant Issac Sims continued looking for IEDs even after he got back from overseas. He would be at the park, or on a walk and he could not drop the feelings that IEDs needed to be found. It was PTSD – intensifying in 2014.
“You know, I come here a couple times a year just because it’s where Issac is,” Issac’s mother Patricia Sims said, walking through Leavenworth National Cemetery.
She says she does not remember her son only as the 26-year-old struggling with his return to Kansas City from Iraq. Instead she remembers his whole life and talking to him regularly.
“He always tells me not to make it all about him. Share the love,” she said, posting flags around his memorial.
“And he’s always in my head, you know? Everyday he’s in my head. I wake up to him, and heaven’s not that far away. It’s just a stairway up,” Patricia said.
Issac Sims died during a stand-off after police responded to a call from his father, who’s since passed away, according to Patricia, of a broken heart.
The family knew Issac was having a hard time, feeling at times, that he thought he was still in Iraq, but he could not get timely treatment at the VA Hospital after repeated attempts.
Patricia says they have heard how things have changed since then.
“And a lot of them have told me that because of the program changing after Issacs’s death, that they have a 30 bed program at the VA. Well now they have a system that will allow someone to be hospitalized on any floor with any bed available until the 30-bed program has an opening,” Patricia said.
Now her goal is to advocate for more re-entry programs by sharing her story. It’s growth, she says, even though she now has her own trauma.
“I can smile now, where before it was all tears. I was just so overwhelmed with grief but grieving is a journey. And there’s nothing you can do. You can hold your breath until you turn blue. You still have to breathe,” Patricia said.
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