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Orrin Gorman McClellan

Orrin Gorman McClellan

Orrin McClellan was born on March 22, 1985. He grew up on Whidbey Island, Washington and graduated from Bayview High School in 2003. At the age of 18 he joined the Army and spent 3 years in the service, including a deployment in Afghanistan. He returned at the age of 21 with serious and invisible wounds to his psyche and his nervous system, his joints, hearing, and his ability to trust others and experience joy without dread. Over the next three years he spiraled down into depression, terror, nightmares, and incapacity. Finally, he took his own life on May 18th, 2010. Consider this: more veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have now committed suicide than were killed in combat in those countries.

At Orrin's memorial service June 26th, 2010 on Whidbey Island, the church was packed with people: friends, family, veterans, military folks, and civilians. Orrin was a remarkable and courageous young man with a great sense of humor and a passion for life. He was also a victim of PTSD, the consequence of his year in combat in Afghanistan. Ed Tick, author of the book War and the Soul has called PTSD "Post Terror Soul Disorder." It is an apt translation.

Until all of us as a community reach out to embrace our veterans and hold their suffering as our own, we can never hope to escape the endless loop of war and violence in which they -- and we -- are ensnared.