Chad Alan Barrett – Staff Sergeant, United States Army

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

February 04, 2008

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Staff Sergeant Chad A. Barrett, 35, of Saltville, Virginia, died February 2, 2008, in Mosul, Iraq, as a result of a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado. The incident is under investigation.

For more information media may contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at (719) 526-4143; after hours (719) 526-5500.

February 5, 2008:

The Department of Defense announced on Tuesday that a soldier from the Tri-Cities died on February 2,2008, in Mosul, Iraq. They say the death of 35 year old Staff Sergeant Chad A. Barrett was not combat related. The Department of Defense list Barrett’s home as Saltville, Virginia. His wife says he was originally from Jonesborough, Tennessee and only lived in Saltville for a short time.


Barrett’s former brother-in law says the news of Barrett’s death was a shock.

“It shocked me more than anything, you don't expect it, even though you know he's in that zone, you just don't expect it,” said Jim Robinson.

Robinson's sister and Staff Sergeant Barrett divorced several years ago. Barrett has since remarried and his wife talked about her husband’s death in an email to News Channel Eleven.

“He fought valiantly for the freedom of those who could not. He loved his family and he cherishes his friends.” said Shelby Barrett, soldier’s wife.

Barrett's wife also said this would have been his 12th year in the military and he loved doing what he did. Barrett graduated from David Crockett High School. This was Barrett's third military tour overseas. He was assigned to the 4th infantry division, headquartered in Fort Carson, Colorado.

Virginia Native Dies During Second Tour In Iraq
By Eric M. Weiss
Courtesy of The Washington Post
Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Staff Sergeant Chad A. Barrett, 35, a native of Saltville, Virginia, died Saturday in Mosul, Iraq. He was serving his second tour in Iraq.

Barrett died of an unspecified “non-combat related incident” that is under investigation, according to the Defense Department.

Barrett lived in Fountain, Colorado, near Fort Carson, where he was based. He was a petroleum supply specialist with the 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Barrett served in Iraq from November 2005 to November 2006 and returned last November.

Northern Iraq has been particularly dangerous in recent weeks. Five U.S. soldiers died January 28, 2008, in Mosul when an American military convoy came under a barrage of gunfire and then was hit by a roadside bomb. Mosul has become a gathering point for the Sunni insurgency and is where Iraq's prime minister vowed to have the “final” battle with al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Barrett was originally from Saltville, Virginia, a small town in Smyth County off Interstate 81 between Radford and the North Carolina border. The town supplied salt to Confederate armies during the Civil War.

He had two sons, Guston Thomas Robinson, 13, and Zachary Allen Barrett, 12, according to his former brother-in-law, Jim Robinson. Robinson said Barrett was divorced and had remarried.

“He was a good guy, loved his country, loved his kids, and I thought he found his niche when he went into the Army,” Robinson said. He said the family was told by the military that Barrett was found in his room. They provided no further details.

On Barrett's MySpace page, which was draped with an American flag background yesterday and filled with testimonials from friends and online acquaintances, one person who posted a comment said that Barrett “loved to dance and make people laugh, his smile was infectious and his laughter could fill a room. He was charismatic and outgoing, both qualities that every person who met him loved. . . . He was a dedicated and hard working man, who put his life on the line for others. He was not a self serving man, but one who served for others. He loved his cats and he cherished his son — although from afar.”

A blog posting ostensibly from Barrett and dated February 3, a day after his death, was less upbeat. It was titled “loss and grief,” and in it Barrett listed his mood as “numb.” The category of the posting was “life.”

The message, attributed to Barrett, read: “When our confidence is shaken in beliefs we thought secure, when the spirit in its sickness seeks but cannot find a cure, God is active in the tensions of a faith not yet mature.”

Staff Sergeant Chad A. Barrett, 35, died Saturday, February 2, 2008, in Mosul, Iraq, while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was assigned to 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.

Staff Sergeant Barrett was born in Washington County, Tennessee, and was a son of Linda Helton, Gray, Ronnie and Donna Barrett, Gray, and stepfather, Randy Hilbert, Jonesborough. He graduated from David Crockett High School in 1991. He was of the Baptist faith and a servant of his Lord Jesus Christ.

He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Guston and Mae Jenkins, and his paternal grandparents, George and Eppie Barrett.

Surviving, in addition to his parents, are his wife, Michelle Barrett, Colorado Springs; two sons, Guston and Zachery, Saltville, Virginia; a brother, Gary Barrett and his wife Kari, Las Vegas; sister, Amber Bacon, Jonesborough; stepsister, Debi Cutlip, Telford; stepbrother, Josh Hilbert, Hendersonville, N.C.; and several cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles.

A memorial service to celebrate the life of Staff Sergeant Barrett will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, 2008, at Dillow-Taylor Funeral Home Chapel in Jonesborough, Tennessee, with Dr. Kenneth Gaskin and Mr. Fred Malone Sr. officiating.

The family will receive friends from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday prior to the memorial service. Interment services will be conducted at Arlington National Cemetery on February 19, 2008, at 2 p.m. with full military honors.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to a trust fund for his two sons, c/o Linda Helton, P.O. Box 8251, Gray, Tennessee 37615.

With full military honors at 2 p.m. Tuesday, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Chad Allen Barrett will be buried in the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.

Though his interment is taking place hundreds of miles from Southwest Virginia, the region will share in his family’s grief.

Barrett died in Mosul, Iraq, about three weeks into his third tour of duty in the war-torn country.

The 35-year-old husband and father apparently died of heart failure.

Barrett had served his country for more than a decade as a member of the U.S. Army. Military tradition played a significant role in Barrett’s family. His grandfather earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star in Germany during World War II.

Such a family’s service should always be acknowledged by a grateful nation – and community.

Now, our thoughts are with Barrett’s young sons, Guston, 13, and Zachary, 12, who both live in Saltville.

Our country lost a decorated serviceman; they lost a dad.

With the passage of time, we hope that our community can find an appropriate way to express our support of this family.

Despite PTSD, fallen soldier was determined to return to Iraq
By Michael de Yoanna,
April 21, 2008

Staff Sergeant Chad A. Barrett was determined to muddle through a third tour of duty in Iraq.

Though his medical records show he suffered from acute post- traumatic stress disorder, had difficulty sleeping and was struggling with a traumatic brain injury, he assured his commanders and doctors that he could again serve his nation.

Yet, only weeks after arriving in Mosul in northern Iraq, Barrett, 35, a member of Fort Carson's 4th Infantry Division, was struggling.

“I am not getting any better, and really bad thoughts are running around my head,” Barrett wrote in an e-mail to his father after five fellow soldiers were killed on January 28 in an ambush by insurgents.

“Part of me wishes that one of those guys was me,” he wrote. “I am goin(g) to try to talk to someone about sending me back home, cause I feel like I am just going to cause harm out here.”

But Barrett would never make it home. Just five weeks into his tour, on February 2, he went to his room and swallowed a lethal combination of antidepressants and sleeping pills that were prescribed for him.

Barrett is not alone.

The Associated Press in January reported 121 Army suicides in 2007, an increase of more than 20 percent over 2006, based on internal briefing documents the news organization obtained.

A RAND Corp. study released last week estimates that 300,000 U.S. troops – about 20 percent of those deployed – are suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Earned medals

In the days leading up to his deployment, Barrett lobbied his commanders and doctors to drop a medical evaluation process that appeared destined to end his 11-year Army career in early retirement for a disability.

Now Barrett's parents in Tennessee want to know why the Army's medical professionals were swayed by their son's entreaties.

“In my experience, you don't tell the doctors what to do, the doctors tell you,” said Chad Barrett's mother, Linda Helton.

Fort Carson has faced scrutiny in recent months for deploying dozens of soldiers deemed unfit for duty.

Officials at Fort Carson won't discuss the Barrett case, citing medical privacy rules, but post commander, Maj. Gen. Mark A. Graham, issued a statement.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Barrett family and friends,” he said. “The specifics of this case are currently under investigation and no further information can be released until the conclusion.”

During a memorial service in March, Barrett's Army comrades described him as an expert marksman with a friendly smile and selfless attitude.

“He didn't have much direction growing up,” said his father, Ronnie Barrett. “When he joined the Army he found himself and became a man.”

Chad Barrett served in Texas, Virginia and Germany before completing two tours in Iraq. Along the way, he earned the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal and several other honors, including a Combat Action Badge.

Living in pain

The after-effects of combat took their toll, however.

During his second deployment to Iraq, Barrett survived several nearby explosions, including one that left him briefly unconscious. When he returned home to Fountain, he found it difficult to relax and enjoy life. He was gripped by agonizing headaches, said his wife, Shelby Barrett.

“There were times when he was on the ground, holding his head, because he was in so much pain,” she said.

Chad Barrett also weathered violent dreams, she said.

Finally, in June 2007, Barrett was hospitalized briefly following what medical records indicate was a suicide attempt – although Shelby Barrett believes her husband suffered a bad reaction to various medications prescribed for him at Fort Carson's Evans Army Community Hospital.

Barrett later was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition where witnesses or survivors of a traumatic event face ongoing emotional and other problems.

According to an Army medical record of Sept. 13, 2007, Chad Barrett's PTSD was a barrier to his retention in the Army. Dr. Clark L. Jennings of Evans' hospital psychiatry service wrote that Barrett should be given “no assignments remote from definitive psychiatric care” and should be barred from carrying a weapon.

On Oct. 24, 2007, at least one of Barrett's commanders backed a medical evaluation process and possible retirement. Barrett was no longer able to perform daily duties. He was described as distant and had previously attempted to harm himself.

“All specialists and command agree it is time for Chad to be removed from the United States Army,” the commander wrote.

Treatment planned

Weeks later, Shelby Barrett said she attended a meeting between her husband and Fort Carson doctors and commanders, who decided to end her husband's medical evaluation.

“Chad didn't want me to oppose him in the meeting,” Shelby Barrett said. “So I didn't. The plan was that he could be deployed and receive regular psychological help once he was in Iraq.”

An Army Medical Evaluation Board, or MEB, may be terminated at the discretion of a physician if the physician determines the soldier meets all of the Army's retention standards, according to Michael P. Griffin, deputy director of patient administration for Army Medical Command.

“An MEB cannot be terminated by a solider,” Griffin said.

During a Dec. 21, 2007, psychological visit just before his Christmas Day deployment, Barrett had eight active prescriptions, including Klonopin for bouts of anxiety and Ambien to help him sleep, his medical records indicate.

Dr. Jonathan A. Olin, an Evans hospital psychiatrist, concluded that Barrett had “no suicidal intent” at that time.

Just weeks later, though, Barrett had thoughts of harming himself.

“I might be a lot stronger, but I have also went through a lot, I know not as much as some, but everyone is different and certain people can only take so much before they break,” he wrote in an e-mail to his parents. “I feel like I am at that point. I can try to play tough all I want, but I know that I am not and that I need help.”

Barrett's parents encouraged him to seek help, but he told them he was having difficulty finding it and that he had difficulty sleeping because he was assigned as an overnight radio operator.

Barrett sent his last e-mail to his parents, claiming the Army only wanted “the correct number of people on the ground . . . no matter what the cost.”

“Well everyone will find out the cost soon enough,” he wrote hours before he died.

Shelby Barrett said her marriage to Chad was strained and that was part of her husband's suffering, but she does not buy into the official explanation.

Her husband's death might have been an unintended reaction to his medications, she said.

“I won't believe it was a suicide until the final report is issued,” she said. “I have to see it for myself.”

Linda Helton wants the Army to release the note found on her son's body.

Ronnie Barrett said he is proud of his son, even though he may have ended his own life. He noted that Army Secretary Peter Geren attended his son's burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

“I appreciate the Army for honoring him as a hero,” Ronnie Barrett said. “Yet I also feel the Army let my son down. Chad felt he was just a number and the Army didn't care.”


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