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November 10, 2009 - 9:45am

Iraq war vet died of wound to head after fall

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, veterans.

Iraq War Veteran James M. Maher was a troubled young man who had at least one acquaintance frantically searching for him hours before his death because he had threatened to harm himself. But a medical examiner has concluded he did not take his own life,

Maher, 27, died of blunt-force trauma to his head. The injury, a result of a fall. There were apparently no witnesses.

Police say Maher had been drinking prior to his death. He had also placed phone calls to friends threatening to harm himself.

A hotel employee contacted The Batavian yesterday and reported that a man entered the hotel about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and said he was looking for a PTSD patient who had left the VA facility and had threatened suicide.

The body of Maher was found in the bushes next to Blockbuster on Lewiston Road about 10:15 p.m. on Saturday.

Maher, a Mechanicville resident, was a patient at the VA Medical Clinic, where he was being treated for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), according to an obituary published in the Albany Times-Union.

The police will continue to investigate the case, according to a news release this morning, as they try to track down Maher's movements prior to his death.

Deborah Eastridge
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my thoughts and prayers go out for him and his family I hope more attention will be made for all our returning military . God Bless them all and Thankyou for all of your service
Tom Gilliatt
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I second that!!!!!!!!!!!!
George Richardson
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The war doesn't end just because you serve your time and get discharged. For many, that's where it really begins. I wish they would bring everybody home and call a truce for fifty years. By then maybe it would be out of our systems, maybe forever. One can only hope.
Doug Yeomans
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It's good to dream, George. If only we hadn't been attacked, we wouldn't need to defend ourselves and send soldiers into harms way. We've never invaded or attacked any other country without it being in self defense or in defense of another country. That's one of the things that makes our country the greatest that's ever existed. I salute everyone who serves now in our voluntary military and everyone else who didn't have a choice under the draft. You all make/made our freedom possible. My mother and father both served..a BIG thank you to both of them especially.
Chris Charvella
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Doug said: "We've never invaded or attacked any other country without it being in self defense or in defense of another country." I beg to differ. We are in Iraq right now sans provocation. No weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda. Every time one of the 'reasons' for us being there has been proven to be a misrepresentation or outright lie, they came up with new 'reasons,' all of which were subsequently proven to be absolute bullshit. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are being put in harm's way every day in Iraq without justification or provocation and if you think any different then you are either a liar or a damned fool.
George Richardson
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Chris, this is an Ohmmmm moment. Ohmmmmm (as long as you can hold it.) Breath deep and then Ohmmmm again (as long as you can hold it) It repels "Patriots" and encourages patriotism at the same time. Keep running for office and your peers will elect you. You are on the right track, Ohmmmmmm. This war stuff is so sad. I was never for it, and most people weren't but they didn't vote.
Jeff Allen
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The fact that another one of our soldiers has fallen victim to PTSD is the real tragedy of this and unfortunately the condition is now being bandied about far too lightly in the wake of the Ft. Hood massacre. Earlier this week in the poll on the Ft. Hood shooting, my post was one of caution against rushing to judgement on what role Islam played in the tragedy. However the preponderence of the evidence cannot be ignored and I believe Hasan is an Islamic terrorist plain and simple. Unfortunately the mainstream media is obsessed with this PTSD theory as it applies to the killer. This does a terrible disservice to actual PTSD victims like Mr. Maher and so many others suffering the very real effects of their exposure to what they have experienced. That being said there is a phenomenon known as "vicarious traumatization" and that is what the media has been referring to as a possible cause of PTSD in the killer by having been exposed to other soldiers accounts of war through his counseling. I have been a credentialed Critical Incident Stress Debriefer for 12 years and can attest to the realities of "vicarious traumatization" in stress providers. I do not believe this to be the case with Hasan. His act of murder against his fellow soldiers and others is clearly and that of Islamic fundamental terrorism. Perhaps one positive that can come out of this tragedy is a clearer understanding of the realities of PTSD, but that will only happen if and when our government, our President and our media begin playing straight with the facts, drop the political correctness and deal the fact that their are enemies among us. One is actual cases of PTSD and the other is Islamic Fundamentalism. Both must be dealt with swiftly and effectively.
Doug Yeomans
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Opinions are opinions, facts are facts. The fact is, we were attacked and Iraq was directly linked to training camps for the terrorists and that's just scratching the surface. We don't live in a perfect world and thank goodness we have a "voluntary" military that sees it differently than you do, Chris. Have you forgotten that Iraq invaded Kuwait and we chased them out of there? What followed was 10 years of taunting the entire free world by Saddam Hussein. He thumbed his nose at every sanction, flew jets in the "no-fly" zones and continued to torture and murder his own people. I could go on and on about how the modern era Hitler destabilized the entire Mideast and funded training camps for Al Qaeda. It's not funny how people forget their history so quickly. Do I think Bush was the perfect prez? Hello no, but none of them can claim that prize. Not even the savior Obama...err...President Obama. George says few people were for it. The House voted 296-133 to give President Bush the power to unilaterally invade Iraq so I beg to differ with that "opinion". The facts say otherwise. I'm pretty sure the overwhelming majority weren't duped by bad intelligence. Please spare me that worn out drama. Had the 29 Democratic Senators who voted to support a new war cast their ballots in opposition, the resolution would have been defeated 52-48—sufficient to scuttle the GOP’s war plans. Liberals such as Clinton, Dianne Feinstein (CA), and John Kerry (MA), supported the Bush administration’s go-it-alone war plan, despite a deluge of pleas from constituents to vote otherwise. Hmm..I wonder what they knew? War is brutal, savage and impacts everyone. It claims victims long after the actual guns and bombs war is over. I wish like hell just as much as anyone else that it didn't need to happen. Do I think we still need to be in Iraq? I'd like to think not but I have to trust those who know more about it than I do. If we're still there now, there has to be a good reason. I don't think anyone just whimsically sends a soldier into battle for nothing. This is the last I'll say about it. Again I thank everyone in the military who voluntarily makes the sacrifice to keep us free and safe. I believe in America, you should too.
Howard B. Owens
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There's a long trail of tears leading up to the death of Mr. James Maher. It goes back at least 120 years when the US was busy trying to suppress the independence of the Philippines. It includes a war of imperialism against Mexico (though the U.S. called it manifest destiny), an occupation of Nicaragua and the support of dozens of dictators throughout the 20th Century. Conservatives -- and especially neocons -- don't like to hear about "root causes," but the fact of the matter is, we had no business stationing troops in Saudi Arabia. And before that, we had no business enabling dictators in Iran and Iraq. Their is no justification for 9/11, but there is an inexorable chain of events should have us asking, at what point do we stop interfering with the affairs of other nations? I'm a veteran and would not shirk from defense of our country, but I find myself increasingly questioning our role in the world, and the purpose of our ongoing involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. When we talk about war, we talk about casualties, but with Iraq and Afghanistan the story of the James Mahers of the wars seem largely forgotten. The thought of what we're doing to tens of thousands of our young men and women (most of them from rural communities, communities like ours) is personally distressing. I've known a dozen or more of Vietnam Vets in my life, and some of them with very troubling histories. The thought of another generation of so many young men (and now women) facing the same difficulties is just heartbreaking. Some predict that these wars will drag on not for years, but for generations. So at what point do we ask seriously: Is it worth it? Are there no other alternatives? Is this really the best we have to offer the world? At what point do we say, enough is enough, and tend to our own garden?
Chris Charvella
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Doug, you're seriously barking up the wrong tree here. I served my country in the Middle East during THIS war. You don't get to tell me or anyone else how the military 'sees it.' Our military is made up of individuals all with differing points of view, but a single duty. When your point of view or even the facts don't agree with your sense of duty, guess what you do... I won't let you off the hook for saying that Iraq was directly linked to the terrorist camps either. You are absolutely wrong about that as has been proven time and again over the years. You say that an overwhelming majority in Congress couldn't be duped by bad intelligence, but we've come to find out that that is exactly what happened. No yellowcake, no WMD's all admitted misrepresentations and lies. You know what bugs the hell out of me? Americans are being sent to Iraq for no reason other than: We're there already, gotta finish up. I know what it's like to be one of those people. You're told where to go and what you're supposed to be doing there and you say 'Yes, Sir, no problem.' You say that because it's exactly how you feel. You have a job to do, you've trained for that job every day since you enlisted and you're great at it. Talent wants to be used and finally you get to do this thing for real; no more 'exercises,' no more 'training;' you're like a thoroughbred racehorse and finally after all that time you get to bust out of the gate and kick some ass. Hell, even the personnel troops stick their chests out and their chins up before they get on the plane to leave. But before you get to the plane, you have to say goodbye to your family. Most guys cry but they hide it well. You'll see the biggest, baddest, meanest bastard you ever met huddled in a corner hugging his wife and holding on to her t-shirt like it's a rope hanging off the last life boat from the Titanic. You'll see a dude who lets other dudes punch him in the chin just for fun braiding his daughter's hair, telling her that Daddy has to go away for work for a while and he's sorry he's gonna miss her birthday and probably Christmas too but he loves her very much and he'll be thinking about her every day. The younger guys are on the phone talking to their parents or girlfriends. They're trying to sound excited and tough, but they're really just scared kids doing their duty. Those guys? They're just fine when the fighting starts. They serve their country well and honorably and they couldn't care less at the time what their reason for being there is. At home though, their families wait for them to return. Husbands and wives wait faithfully for their loved ones to come home while they try to live some semblance of a normal life. Parents continue their everyday routines. Children don't quite understand why mommy or daddy has been gone so long, but they know they're supposed to be proud. Behind all of it is the constant fear that one day there's going to be a knock on the door or the phone is going to ring and the worst news you ever heard is going to be on the other side. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines fight because it's what they do. Our Country calls and we answer happily. It is because of that simple truth that we owe our military a pure and righteous mission. Every time we put a person in harms way in service to his country there had better be a damned good reason to do so because that soldier will willingly lay down his life for whatever reason we give. He will pay in blood and his family will pay double. The loved ones he leaves behind have to live the rest of their lives without him; all the birthdays, all the Christmases, every tiny event where family is considered precious, they will have to endure without him. That family should NEVER have to learn that the hole in their lives was caused by a politician who lied about his reasons for sending soldiers away to die. I took part in my share of those airport scenes as have hundreds of thousands before me. All we ever wanted was a clearly defined mission and the tools with which to carry it out. For the last eight years, our politicians have given us neither of the above and on top of it, the self-serving bastards lied us into a war we didn't need to fight. The politicians who are supposed to care for the military and use them only when necessary decided instead to tear families apart to feed their greed and their obsessions. I'll say right now for every surviving family member, for every military member coming home with post traumatic stress and for any person affected by this war in Iraq: Send me to war if you must. I'll fight and die so you don't have to, but lie me to war and I'll curse you and everyone you hold dear to Hell, that's what you'll have done to me.
Dave Olsen
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That was very well said Chris. I'm with you and wish I was as eloquent. You know I find that the most hawkish people (Politicians especially) are usually those who didn't step up and take the oath to defend their country.
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In case no one has told you lately Chris - thank you for serving our country. God Bless you and and all of the others who have served and protect those who still are.
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Well said, Chris. Thank you to those in uniform and those who served. Doug, Someday you'll stop regurgitating the lies and rhetoric of the past administration and realize that those lies and that rhetoric placed us square where we are today.
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Chris, you captured exactly what happens. You made me cry remembering how this happens over and over again. I spent four years in the Army, but didn't get to do what you did. I sat behind a desk as a Mental Health Specialist, listening to these experiences. It's heartwrenching to remember that. I grew up the daughter of a Vietnam Vet, granddaughter to two sets of grandparents who served during WWII. No one should take the effects of war lightly. George was right when he said " The war doesn't end just because you serve your time and get discharged. For many, that's where it really begins." Its the truth. How do you go back to your life after your reserve unit was called up to deploy and when you return home, a year (or more) has passed. You are not the same person who left. It's been nearly four years since I served, and no doubt nothing has changed, except that our soldiers have deployed two or three more times since. Things I will never forget: Talking with a Sergeant about an incident where he was on patrol with his battle buddy, them being shot at, then watching his buddy die because an RPG sliced him in half. He couldn't understand why he was spared and not his partner. Watching a new mother of a four month old son have to leave him so she can go down range will forever be in my heart. There so many more, but these are truths our soliers, families, and friends deal with.
Chris Charvella
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Laura, to be honest, I had tears in my eyes the whole time I was writing it as well. Twice I almost deleted it but in the end I decided that people should know a little more about the real sacrifice military members and their families make every day. Folks, today when you're remembering veterans and what they gave to you, remember their families as well who hold them dear and pray for their safe return.
Karen Miconi
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Thank You to all who have served our country. I will never forget the sacrifices our Brave men and women give every day for our freedom. I always display our country's American Flag with gratefulness, pride, and at times sadness. God Bless America, and her Soldiers of Peace. Thank You also to the special person that put the American Flag next to Blockbuster as a memorial to Mr. Maher. May you rest in Peace Soldier....
John Woodworth JR
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Chris if you think there was no WMDs in Iraq, you are sadly mistaken. Just because, the media hasn't reported anything substantial doesn't mean JACK! First of all, you have to remember Saddam didn't allow inspectors in for no reason. Saddam was a smart man and knew what he was doing. First did you ever read the past article of the 60 fully fueled and armed Iraqi fighter aircraft found buried in the sand? Second have you read the past articles of the two IEDs used on our soldiers in Iraq (shortly after the war) that contact chemical agents (Example of a WMD)? So to say that there was nothing is fool hearted. You say no ties to Al Qaeda, but what about the muslim priest and terrorist leaders in Iraq who claim they are Al Qaeda? They are Iraqi citizens. I agree that the War with the Taliban added an excuse for Bush to declare war with Iraq. Let's not forget Saddam had be defiant since the end of the first Gulf War and remained a threat in the Middle East arena. This war should of happen 12 years earlier when Clinton was in office and actually should have been finish by Bush Sr. Saddam did have WMDs and was smart enough to remove them and hide them with ally nations of Iraq. If you do not think Saddam was smart enough to have master mind that, then it is you who is the fool. You may be right that Bush intended all along to declare War on Iraq, but the War was Justified. The only things I am pissed about is Bush never had an Post War plan and the fact that we are rebuilding Iraq on our dollar. They have oil use that to paid for their rebuilding. I am tire of hearing people think that the whole WMD was a total lie. Saddam stalled and tamper with the inspectors purposely to dispose of evidence. I served in the Gulf and have one last tour before I retire. I will be assigned with the last units there. I do believe it is time for us to leave and we are. Afghanistan? We should remain in the AOR until we capture or kill Bin Laden and then leave. Afghanistan can never be control by a single government until their clans and tribes can live and work together. It would take several generations of us being there to have a chance to establish order there.
John Woodworth JR
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Karen, THANKS!!!!! My family is worried, but like you will support me. I have one last tour and went I return, I RETIRE after 20+ years. GOD BLESS US ALL in this time of darkness.
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No John, Thank You for protecting us and your country, and, the innocent over seas. Tell your family not to worry, you will rise above the darkness and come home safely to enjoy the rest of your life on earth, that God has given you. Wow 20 years!! What true dedication John. You have so much to be proud of!! Do you remember this time John? I do, and Whitneys performance still gives me chills and I will never forget it what our troops do for the US and the World..
jonathan bell
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ARE YOU KIDDING ME CHRIS? You call yourself a vet and say youve been to Iraq but you dont know why we're there? Unlike you I've seen why were there I've guarded the UN peacekeepers while they cataloged Saddam's mass graves where he killed thousands because he didnt like them not for any reason other then he didnt like their tribe. You may have joined the military for a bonus or for the GI Bill but i joined to make a difference i took a huge paycut when i joined but i love this. Im in afghanistan as i type this on my 3rd deployment and i volunteered for this cause theres no better feeling then going into a remote village and helping them have better lives helping them have a fraction of what you have everytime you walk into you house take a hot shower have food whenever you feel hungry why not iraqis? why not afghans? why not give every child in the world a chance to eat or go to school? you say you were in iraq i would love to see you dd214 proving that cause to say were there for no reason is ridiculous i can send you hundreds of pictures of schools and hospitals we built over there.

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