|Pfc. Jason D. Scheuerman
United States Army
KIA 30 July 2005, Iraq
|The last days of Private Scheuerman
Father says military support system failed suicidal soldier
SANFORD, N.C. - Private First Class Jason Scheuerman nailed a suicide note to his barracks closet
in Iraq, stepped inside and shot himself.
"Maybe finaly I can get some peace," said the 20-year-old, misspelling "finally" but writing in a neat
His parents didn't find out about the note for well over a year, and only then when it showed up in
a government envelope in his father's rural North Carolina mailbox.
The one-page missive was among hundreds of pages of documents the soldier's family obtained
and shared with The Associated Press after battling a military bureaucracy they feel didn't want to
answer their questions, especially this: Why did Jason Scheuerman have to die?
What the soldier's father, Chris, would learn about his son's final days would lead the retired
Special Forces commando, who teaches at Fort Bragg, to take on the very institution he's spent his
life serving — and ultimately prompt an investigation by the Army inspector general's office.
Portrait of a troubled soldier
The documents, obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests filed by Chris Scheuerman,
reveal a troubled soldier kept in Iraq despite repeated signs he was going to kill himself, including
placing the muzzle of his weapon in his mouth multiple times.
Jason Scheuerman's story — pieced together with interviews and information in the documents —
demonstrates how he was failed by the very support system that was supposed to protect him. In
his case, a psychologist told his commanders to send him back to his unit because he was capable
of feigning mental illness to get out of the Army.
He is not alone. At least 152 U.S. troops have taken their own lives in Iraq and Afghanistan since
the two wars started, contributing to the Army's highest suicide rate in 26 years of keeping track.
For the grieving parents, the answers don't come easily or quickly.
For Jason Scheuerman, death came July 30, 2005, around 5:30 p.m., about 45 minutes after his first
sergeant told the teary-eyed private that if he was intentionally misbehaving so he could leave the
Army, he would go to jail, where he would be abused.
When the call came out over the unit's radios that there had been a death, one soldier would later
tell investigators that he suspected it was Scheuerman.
Playing GI Joe
Scheuerman spent his early years on military posts playing GI Joe. The middle child, he divided his
time after his parents' divorce between his mother's house in Lynchburg, Va., and his father's in
North Carolina, where he went to high school.
He was nearly 6 feet tall and loved to eat. His mother, Anne, said sometimes at 10 p.m. she'd find
him defrosting chicken to grill.
Likable and witty, he often joked around — even dressing up like a clown one night at church
camp, said his pastor, Mike Cox of West Lynchburg Baptist Church. But he had a quiet, reflective
side, too, and sometimes withdrew, Cox said.
"You always knew how he felt. He wore his emotions on his sleeve," his mother said. "If he was
angry, you knew it. If he was upset, you knew it."
Scheuerman liked military history and writing but decided college wasn't for him. After a short stint
in landscaping, he followed what seemed an almost natural path into the military. His mother had
spent a year in the Army, and his father, a physician's assistant, retired as an Army master
sergeant. One of his two brothers also joined and is now in Afghanistan.
Father: 'We're all afraid' during war
He enlisted in 2004 and was sent to Iraq from Fort Benning, Ga., in January 2005 with the 3rd
On leave a few months later, Scheuerman told his father he was having a hard time with combat
and killing people.
"I've seen war," his father said. "I told him that a lot of what he was seeing was normal. That we all
feel it. That we're all afraid."
December 13, 2010
Edward D. Scheuerman Sr
In Honor Of Jason D. Scheuerman
My thoughts are always with Jason and his family. I to served in Iraq also about the same time as
Jason. We should never forget our fallen soldiers, sailors, marines or airmen. We as service
members that have served in combat have scares and wounds weather they are seen or not,
combat changes a person forever.