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National Veterans Foundation - Blog
just finished working with Bud and his team from The Bunker Project, helping to defend a young Veteran with severe PTSD named Jesse Bratcher, from John Day, Oregon, who was accused of killing a man he believed had raped his girlfriend.
The story of the defendant, Jesse Bratcher
, is one of a normal, law-abiding young man whose mental condition was changed dramatically, for the worse, by his
experiences in the Iraq war.
was raised by his
grandparents in Eastern Oregon, who describe him as a "perfect boy."He graduated high school with a B average.
esse had no problems with the law before he joined the Oregon National Guard, and was sent to Iraq for a combat tour as a machine gunner for an armored division.
esse had a lifelong aversion to guns, which made the military a strange choice, until you consider the lack of options for a poor boy with a high school education from rural Oregon.
Jesse's unit was sent to Iraq, where he
took the U.S. rules of engagement very seriously, even memorizing them.
twice refused to fire on civilians his
platoon engaged, even writing up a complaint when men from his
unit shot and killed a civilian Iraqi who was armed, but not acting in a hostile manner.
esse's best friend was killed during their tour when his
Humvee, in front of Jesse
, was hit by an IED explosion.
is commanders say Jesse
was never the same afterwards.
returned from Iraq, his
grandparents noticed a significant difference in his
sweet, easy-going boy they had raised was now prone to angry outbursts.
had trouble sleeping.
e spent days sleeping in the woods and set up perimeters and establishing fields-of-fire, where he
carried, slept with, and maintained his
The men in his
reserve unit noticed a difference, too.
esse began missing formations, when he
had never had a problem before.
e had a particular stare that made the other men uneasy.
e complained of flashbacks.
e was angry all the time.Eventually, a commander suggested he
visit the VA in Boise, Idaho 4and get checked out.
After numerous visits to the VA, and one rejection of benefits, Jesse
was diagnosed with PTSD, with a 100% disabled rating, and started receiving treatment.
Things started to improve for Jesse
That night, Jesse
put the barrel of his
AK-47 in his
mouth and almost pulled the trigger.
wo days later, he
got in the car with his
girlfriend with the intention of reporting the rape to the police.
instead ended up on the front lawn of the man his
girlfriend accused of raping her
had tried several times to contact the police.
e was unsuccessful.
fter confronting the alleged rapist, Jessie experienced a flashback during which he
shot and killed the victim.
The defense team argued that he
should not be held criminally liable for the killing, as his
PTSD, produced by his
war experiences, made him legally insane at the time of the shooting.