Brockton recruiter's apparent suicide try may be linked to push to
find wartime volunteers
By Maureen Boyle
Feb 02, 2010
Army recruiter Raymond Kerr was found clinging to life, gun in hand,
in his car in the parking lot outside the military recruiting office
on Westgate Drive on Monday morning.
The 33-year-old Army sergeant was shot in the head in what appeared
to be a self-inflicted wound, police said. Kerr, who most recently
lived in Whitman, was flown to a Boston hospital on Monday, where he
remained Tuesday afternoon.
If investigators officially rule the case an attempted suicide, it
would be part of a troubling trend in the military.
The U.S. Army this month reported there were 160 reported active-duty
Army suicides in 2009.
Of that number, 114 were confirmed and 46 were pending until the
manner of death was determined.
That number was up from 2008, when there were 140 suicides among
Nationally, 17 military recruiters committed suicide between 2001 and
January 2009, according to npr.org.
Experts point out that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are the longest
fought by an all-volunteer military in the nation's history.
That requires a steady supply of new men and women for the armed
forces, which puts pressure on the recruiters who themselves might be
coping with the traumatic aftermath of combat duty.
Mark Dunay, an Army veteran and clinical social worker in Plymouth,
said not enough is being done to help those in the military
particularly those returning from combat deal with day-to-day civilian life.
"They are recycled back in the mainstream of society and it is as if
they are being reintroduced on a different planet," he said.
Dunay, whose son is a combat veteran, said those who return from war
find it difficult to deal with the mundane complaints people may have.
"People are complaining about their (golf) putting and these guys
have been facing their own deaths and seeing their friends getting
blown up," Dunay said.
Dunay, who describes himself as pro-military, said more money needs
to be allocated for mental health programs for veterans.
In the case on Monday, Police Chief William Conlon said the shooting
appeared to be an attempted suicide. "There is no indication other
than that," he said.
He called the shooting a tragedy. "Any time a person takes or
attempts to take their own life, it is extremely sad," Conlon said.
Kerr was found shortly before 7 a.m. in a 2003 red Oldsmobile parked
in the lot outside the military recruiting offices at the 165
Westgate Drive strip mall on the outskirts of the Westgate Mall area.
One of his co-workers, who made the discovery, called police and told
police it appeared Kerr shot himself in the head. Kerr was later
flown by medical helicopter to a Boston hospital.