From a War Zone to Stateside Nightmare

"I am not familiar," Wright said, "with other recruiting battalions' situations as it compares to Houston."

USAREC records show that of the 17 suicides, the only other area with more than one such death was Milwaukee, with one in fiscal year 2001 and another in 2003. Army-wide, there have been 93 suicides this year through Aug. 31 -- so Henderson is not included in that figure -- and there were 115 suicides in 2007.

Warning Signs

Staff Sgt. Amanda Henderson, Patrick Henderson's wife, said the pressures of recruiting, plus a career-threatening knee injury and mental scars from his days as an infantryman in Iraq, were just too much for her husband.

He first tried to commit suicide in August, less than a month after Flores, his wife's boss, hanged himself, leaving a wife and two children behind. Amanda Henderson said that when her husband drove home for what would have been one last kiss goodbye, she was able to get the keys away from him and lock the door to his car where the loaded gun was stored.

Henderson, 35, was driven six hours to the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio after three or four days in a clinic. Two evaluations there by civilian doctors declared him not a danger to himself or others, Amanda Henderson said, though they recommended he leave his high-stress recruiting job.

Less than a month later, he was dead -- his body found by his wife and stepson. He had been waiting on papers to transfer back into the infantry.

"I depended on Patrick for so much. He was my rock," Amanda Henderson said. "I would do anything in this world to have him back."

The couple had been married for less than a year. They met in 2007 in recruiting training school in South Carolina where Henderson was training for a second round of recruiting.

They had both served tours of duty in Iraq, Amanda Henderson for a year between 2004 and 2005 and Patrick Henderson for a year between 2005 and 2006. While she had volunteered for a recruiting position, he had received orders for the job before his time in Iraq and after.

"He had a presence about him and he was handsome," she said. "And when he spoke -- when he spoke everyone listened to him."

But knee surgery for an injury sustained in Iraq led to a devastating staph infection that dragged out his recovery time for months and led to rumors that not only would he never be allowed back in the infantry, he could be let go from his recruiting job because he wasn't able to work.

Amanda Henderson said he tried to go to physical therapy, but his phone would ring and ring with command wanting to know where he was and when he could come back to work.

"He had a lot of pressures going on about work," she said.

He hated the recruiting job, she said, even though he was good at it. In Iraq he had been a respected leader, she said, but in the recruiting office he was forced to take orders from a lower-ranking official who would criticize his methods.

Amanda Henderson said she went to bed the night of Sept. 20 after discussing plans for the next day with her husband. She said she was mentally and physically exhausted, having spent the past month watching her husband's every move, afraid he might try again to commit suicide.

And when she fell asleep, her husband of less than 10 months ended his life.

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