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WASHINGTON — The family of a soldier who hanged himself after he was denied the combat infantryman badge, forced out of the Army and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury has finally received the combat badge he earned in 2009.
“It was the first time the Army acknowledged me on a human level,” said former Spc. Jacob Andrews’ mother, Lauri Turner.
Col. Samuel Whitehurst and Lt. Col. Brian Beckno, the commanders of 3rd Brigade Combat Team and 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, pinned combat infantryman badges on Turner and Andrews’ infant son, Jake, in a ceremony at Fort Drum, N.Y. on Thursday. Turner also received a plaque commemorating Andrews’ combat service.
“It was a very genuine ceremony,” Turner said in an email. “I didn’t feel like they were just doing it to get me to go away. … Col. Whitehurst and Lt. Col. Beckno were very comforting.”
Andrews deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and was involved in more than a dozen firefights, according to those who served with him. He suffered a TBI and started drinking heavily, getting in trouble for numerous alcohol-related incidents and arguments with superiors. He was discharged in September 2010 for misconduct and later was diagnosed with PTSD.