“I FACED THE ENEMY AND LIVED!” Lieberman painted on the wall in big, black letters. “IT WAS THE DEATH DEALERS THAT TOOK MY LIFE!”
Soldiers called Lieberman’s unit, the 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, the Death Dealers. Adam suffered serious mental health problems after a year of combat in Iraq. The Army, however, blamed his problems on a personality disorder, anxiety disorder or alcohol abuse — anything but the war. Instead of receiving treatment from the Army for his war-related problems, Adam faced something more akin to harassment. He was punished and demoted for his bad behavior, but not treated effectively for its cause. The Army’s fervent tough-guy atmosphere discouraged Adam from seeking help. Eventually he saw no other way out. Now, in what was to be his last message, he pointed the finger at the Army for his death.
It would be a voice from beyond the grave, he thought, screaming in uppercase letters. The last words, “THAT TOOK MY LIFE!” tilted down the wall in a slur, as the concoction of drugs seeped into Adam’s brain.
Late last month the Army released figures showing the highest suicide rate among soldiers in three decades. The Army says 128 soldiers committed suicide in 2008 with another 15 still under investigation.
If Salon’s publication of these photos helps the military reform its culture and more effectively aid traumatized Iraq War vets before they get suicidal, this family will have done a great service. As the ultimate act of humiliation, the military promised Pvt. Adam Lieberman’s mother the charge of defacing government property would go away if she painted over his suicide note … then they charged him anyway.
See the rest of the photos taken by Heidi Lieberman’s sister from the Salon feature: “The Death Dealers took my life! ” Also from Salon’s week long “Coming Home” series: Intro: Death in the USA: The Army’s fatal neglect . part 1: The Death Dealers took my life!. part 2: Kill yourself. Save us the paperwork. part 3: “You’re a pussy and a scared little kid.”
(image: Lieberman family)