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Soldier commits suicide after failing last chance at EMT test


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I am speechless. God Bless her for trying.


23 April 2009

Soldier found dead failed last chance to become medic

By Sig Christenson

San Antonio Express-News

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas — Pfc. Jaynie May Askew had one last chance to pass a test that all soldiers in combat medic training are given at Fort Sam Houston.

Ace it, and you're on your way to being a medic.

Fail it, and you're out.

"She texted us yesterday at 11:04 (a.m.) and said, 'For the record, I didn't pass the test. God is still on the throne,'" her mother, Sandra Askew, said Wednesday. "God has things under control. He knows better than we did why things happen."

Six hours and 41 minutes after sending that message, Askew, 43, of Scottsdale, Ariz., apparently raised a .45-caliber handgun to her head and fired. The shot echoed through the 32nd Medical Brigade training barracks, prompting two soldiers to investigate.

They entered the barracks bay and saw Askew facedown on a bed, an "apparent suicide note" at her side and a handgun at the scene, post spokesman Phil Reidinger said.

Described by her mother as a woman who was "all heart" and "gave it her all," Askew became one of at least 57 U.S. soldiers worldwide thought to have committed suicide this year. So far, 22 cases have been confirmed as suicides, the Army said, with 35 pending the outcome of investigations, including Askew's case.

There is a growing concern within the Pentagon about the problem. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week at Fort Sam that the Army is on track to break last year's record suicide mark — 143. The service has been keeping such records since 1980.

A probe by the Army's criminal investigation division into Askew's death continues, and no official ruling has been issued by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Authorities were providing few details and would not disclose the contents of the note, but Sandra Askew said her daughter had pressured herself to pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians test.

She had taken it twice before and failed. Active-duty soldiers flunking it a third time are removed from combat medic training at Fort Sam and given a new job specialty. Askew faced a return to her Arizona National Guard unit, which had sent her to Fort Sam to become a combat medic.

"We know that she was under a lot of stress, and that she had put a lot of pressure on herself about this test," her mother said.

The elder Askew said her daughter came to the Army after losing custody of her children, Dayne and Chase. Sandra Askew said her daughter divorced in the late 1990s and years later lost custody after an incident when one of the children was spanked. She said a visitation battle continued, with Askew rarely getting to see the children.

The Army was a chance to make things right. After working as an assistant manager of a Nordstrom's bistro in Lake Oswego, Ore., near Portland, she walked away from civilian life and entered basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. At 41, she was among the Army's oldest recruits.

"She had to have a purpose," Sandra Askew said, recalling a conversation in which her daughter said, "'If I can't see my kids, I'll serve my country.'"

Jaynie Askew initially enlisted in the Oregon National Guard and joined the Arizona National Guard's 856th Military Police Company at Camp Navajo outside Flagstaff in March 2008. She came to the Alamo City in January and spent two months here preparing to take the EMT test, which is required for students to enter advanced combat medic training.

For Sandra Askew, the first hint that something terrible had gone wrong came early Wednesday, when a pair of casualty assistance officers came to the Askew home in Camas, Wash., just across the river from Portland.

Sandra Askew recalled high school classmates of her daughter in Bullhead City, Ariz., near the California, Nevada and Arizona borders, voting her "the funniest girl in class."

She also was generous with her support and time, her mother said. Sandra Askew said her daughter came to the aid of one GI in a medic course who had joined the Army to help her family through tough financial times.

"She was overweight and almost got let go. Our daughter helped her put the right combination of food together and helped her exercise so she could lose weight and stay in medics," Sandra Askew said. "If you were to interview (soldiers in) her barracks, she was always encouraging everybody else, and nobody could believe how cheerful she was."

Edited by Dustdevil
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Wow, I was going to originally post a smart assed comment when I saw the title of the thread but wow, its always sad to loose a fellow medic, be it pre or post registry still a medic.

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The elder Askew said her daughter came to the Army after losing custody of her children, Dayne and Chase. Sandra Askew said her daughter divorced in the late 1990s and years later lost custody after an incident when one of the children was spanked. She said a visitation battle continued, with Askew rarely getting to see the children.

My guess is this was the biggest mitigating influence, + the oldest recruit and then a fail x 3 .. this gal must have been really down. The news release does not state if she served on active duty in a war zone ?

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You cant blame the system for her failures. Granted she had some baggage going into this training, and I doubt if her age was the issue. EMS is not for everyone. ( IMHO )

I am not suggesting that her age was the issue, just a mitigating factor. Unless one has walked in her shoes, one will never know why taking her life was the only option she felt she had left. Depression actually does cause physical pain and fairly obvious that she suffered from depression.

Who knows what the real truth is really, in any news release to start with.

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actually I have known many emt's and paramedics to be who failed the nat reg test or just the state test when nat reg was not around and I was one of them. The pressure when I was taking the class was that I spent 2 years in a program putting in manymany hours and if you failed it twice you were done.

So yes you can get as depressed as the person in the original article was. I know for fact as I dated a couple of those truly depressed people.

You say it's only a test yet it's a test that you have put your heart and soul into and to fail twice or thrice can be a real stressor.

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