By Debbie Gregory.
Air Force Reserve Capt. Jamie Brunette went to war for her country. In her 11 year Air Force career, Brunette deployed twice to Afghanistan. She was named Contracting Officer of the Year by the Air Mobility Command for her work overseeing nearly $80 million in security contracts. She also worked to open Orangetheory Fitness with a husband and wife team, while taking on a new role in the Reserves. Brunette also suffered from PTSD, and sadly, on February 9th, she committed suicide.
Twenty-two United States veterans commit suicide a day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Recent research has suggested that while women veterans are far less likely to commit suicide as compared to their male counterparts, they are three times more likely to commit suicide than women that have never served the Armed Forces.
Upon returning home, the 30-year-old began to withdraw and seemed reluctant to talk about her deployment. Heather Milner, Brunette’s roommate, had spoken to Brunette about her career previously, as she was considering joining the Air Force. Brunette told Milner that a normal day in Afghanistan was “pretty scary.” Brunette said her troop would be under mortar attacks on a daily basis and that they had to run and hide in the bunkers.
Brunette’s friends and family are also questioning whether Brunette might have been the victim of a sexual assault while she was in the military.
“I knew that she was at one point getting counseling from the VA, but I didn’t know when she started going or how often she was going,” Milner says.
Capt. Brunette’s family and friends gathered to honor her memory and raise awareness about PTSD. Milner hopes her friend’s tragic story will help other’s overcome their battles and seek help when needed.
“Jamie was full of life, and I think if she’s looking down right now, I really think that it would make her so happy to know that her story can help someone else,” Milner says.
Jackie Leverich, Brunette’s sister, said, “Jamie had a passion for life and a contagious smile. She was always upbeat and positive and had a way of making your bad day good with a cheery word or a good laugh. I wish we would have known she was hurting so badly, and maybe we could have done something to help her.”
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Military Connection: PTSD Suspected in AF Vet’s Suicide: By Debbie Gregory