State News

Baghdad shooting victim counseled soldiers

Posted May 13, 2009

— Navy Cmdr. Charles Springle made a career of treating soldiers for combat stress caused by frequent deployments to battle zones. He also tried to fight the stigma that can prevent those who need mental help from seeking it.

Springle, 52, was deployed at a U.S. military clinic in Baghdad, Iraq, counseling service members when an Army sergeant finishing up his third tour of duty allegedly shot and killed him and four other comrades.

The war's deadliest case of soldier-on-soldier violence starkly shows the struggle Springle and his colleagues face dealing with the emotional problems suffered by some soldiers repeatedly deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"He regarded it as very important work," said Bob Goodale, a friend of Springle's and director of behavioral mental health for the Chapel Hill-based Citizen-Soldier Support Program. "We all who work in this know that it is difficult. This is an example of how difficult."

Baghdad shooting victim counseled soldiers Slain soldier counseled others

The military identified the victims in Monday's shooting as Springle and four soldiers from the Army: Pfc. Michael Edward Yates Jr., 19, of Federalsburg, Md.; Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, 25, of Paterson, N.J.; Spc. Jacob D. Barton, 20, of Lenox, Mo.; and Maj. Matthew Houseal, 54, a psychiatrist from Amarillo, Texas.

A commander since 2002, Springle went by his middle name of "Keith" and had been in the Navy for 21 years. A Navy spokesman at the Pentagon said Springle left behind a wife and two children in Wilmington.

Goodale and Springle had worked together on a presentation that outlines potential traumas experienced by service members who have done multiple tours and the barriers that can keep them from being treated.

"We have to find better ways to reduce the stigma," Goodale said Tuesday. "To work on the acceptance of combat stress as a real thing. It has been for centuries, and we must persevere."

"It's heartbreaking to see how needlessly his life was taken, basically, when it's by a fellow soldier," Springle's cousin, Alton Dudley said. "He was such a fine young man. The world needs more of him, instead of less."


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  • Piny tek May 13, 2009

    ajshaggin: I agree with you 100%, charity begins at home. America wants to help the whole world and not do enough for those that need it here the most.

  • johnsod27330 May 13, 2009

    I need to clear up some misconceptions. As a 28 year veteran and having deployed 4 times in support of OIF/OEF I find the availability and quality of care while deployed very good. The military goes out of its way to provide help to Soldiers. The main problem is Soldiers not seeking the help. Some have this beleif that they will be stigmatized and that isn't the case. The military has learned a lot these last 6 years. Another thing is that the media always wants to say the cause of emotional issues is the repeated deployments. There are a lot of triggers for the emotional issues, repeated deployments, combat conditions, home conditions etc etc. To say it is all because of repeated deployments paints the wrong picture. This guy had more going on then what has been released.

  • ajshaggin May 13, 2009

    First of all my heart goes out to this young mans mother & all of the families. I agree with her 100% that the military should have done something sooner to help the shooter. His problems did not just pop up. Personally i do not believe that any of our soldiers should have to do 3 tours in combat. While we are out spending our billions of US money on training the soldiers of foreign countries that money should be spent on our own military. We neglect our own in order to be so called do gooders for countries that eventually use it against us. Again we need to look after our own first & foremost.