This is a story by a father and his son to detail the son's issues with PTSD after returning from multiple overseas Naval deployments as a sniper that led to several suicide attempts, including a long, convoluted plan involving multiple foreign countries. This story is both heartwarming and disturbing. Family and friends worked together to save Mark, but the military seemed indifferent to the struggles that led to this situation. This is a powerful story that provides helpful information for families that may be confronting similar situations.
About the Author
After approximately nine years of exemplary active duty in the Navy on board two ships and one shore command, Petty Officer Mark K. Miller (Mark) volunteered to serve in the elite Mobile Security Force D-22 for the next five years. After months of grueling training, his detachment was assigned to Embarked Security Teams protecting high-value assets in the Middle East. His fire team engaged several small boat attacks, most notably was on board the USNS Pecos on November 20, 2003. Later, his detachment was assigned to protect the Iraqi Oil Platform (ABOT) and to train the newly arriving Iraqi brigades. He served as a designated marksman where he underwent seven months of extreme mental and physical hardship. One of his translators was killed, which caused severe depression and anxiety (PTSD). This was further aggravated when he developed severe back pain, made worse by having to carry more than eighty pounds of armor and standing on guard for long hours.
He was then assigned to several Raven Missions where his depression and back pain became worse. He sought help from several civilian psychologists to no avail. After re-assignment to Kingsville Texas in January 2007, his anxiety and depression became worse. At the recommendation of a psychologist, Mark was started on Prozac for his depression. The drug provoked an adverse effect, causing suicidal ideation and manic behavior. He once again sought help from a Navy mental health professional, who recognized the severity of his condition and committed him to a private mental health hospital for detoxification and treatment. Unfortunately, the psychiatrist in charge did not take him seriously and discharged him four days later. Mark became even more determined to commit suicide and borrowed $20,000 to finance his elaborate suicide plan, which involved traveling to Central America to take an overdose of Nembutal.
Mark's family got wind of his suicide mission through a series of events, including finding his abandoned truck and cell phone, and the confession of his girlfriend, elaborating on his suicide plan, which she had not taken seriously until then. With his suicide medication in hand, he was on the last leg of his final journey. Through God's intervention, a streak of good luck, diligence by his family, and through extraordinary efforts from a number of agencies, including the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), private investigators, US Marshals, and Mexican Federales, Mark was apprehended at the airport in Mexico City where he was preparing to board a plane to Costa Rica to kill himself.
He was brought back to the United States for treatment. Instead, he was apprehended by military police and thrown in the brig, where he once again attempted suicide. He was finally committed to a Naval mental hospital where he was diagnosed as having a manic episode of bipolar disorder, aggravated by Prozac.
Since then Mark has made a remarkable recovery and has dedicated his life to helping veterans and their families battle depression and suicide. Dr. Larry J. Miller practiced emergency medicine for more than 30 years in one of Texas' largest inner-city hospitals. Since training at Chicago's Cook County Hospital, where he earned the Intern of the Year Award in 1966, he has personally treated more than 130,000 emergency patients. He was chairman of the Emergency Departments of the 5 Baptist hospitals in San Antonio for more than 15 years and Medical Director for 10 EMS agencies in South Texas for more than 30 years.
He volunteered as a missionary doctor for three years at Hospital Castañer in Puerto Rico, a rural total health care facility serving approximately 20,000 patients. He has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and South America, working at remote hospitals and public health facilities in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia.
Dr. Miller was the founder and CEO of Vidacare Corporation, and the developer of the EZ-IO. Dr. Miller was granted more than 144 patents for Vidacare technology and received FDA clearance for 18 indications. Dr. Miller published over 27 research papers. He received the Innovation of the Year Award from the Wall Street Journal in 2008 for his development and commercialization of the EZ-IO and Medical Device Innovation of the Year from the Wall Street Journal in 2012 for his invention of OnControl, a powered bone marrow biopsy device. Dr. Miller earned the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the University of Michigan in 2017 for helping to save the lives of over 4 million people in the world.
Since his company sold to Teleflex in 2013, he has practiced urgent care medicine and is the medical director of Acacia Medical Missions in Spring Branch, Texas, a clinic serving the under and uninsured patients of South Texas. He is a major hands-on sponsor of Medical/dental missions in El Salvador through Christ for the City International.