Nearly three years after a mortar blast in Iraq, Retired Army Reserve Lt. Col. Raymond Trejo Rivas, 53, of New Braunfels was buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. Rivas committed suicide after struggling with multiple traumatic brain injuries that had been repeatedly misdiagnosed.
Rivas was sent back to the battlefield after each bomb blast until doctors realized that his brain was slowyly being destroyed. After a 2006 mortar blast in Iraq, he was sent home for good. At Walter Reed Medical Center, the full extent of his brain injuries seemed to allude doctors.
Rivas couldn’t do simple things like getting dressed and feeding himself. In written testimony to Congress, Rivas said even when he was sent to Brooke Army Medical Center he was pretty much on his own for two to three months. When the military finally assigned a case worker, Rivas received massive amounts of therapy. Although he seemed to be improving, he was found dead in his car on April 15th of an apparent suicide.
Colleen Rivas said her husband was devoted to serving his country. “He always put duty and his country first,” she said. But after sustaining eight concussions he changed dramatically.
“He was like two different people…” she said. “When he came back (from Iraq), we had to re-teach him everything … He wrote like a second grader … He couldn’t add or subtract. He had to relearn so much.”
“This was a man with a master’s degree in engineering,” Brian said.
Doctors told Colleen her husband would be in a nursing home by 2011. His death came as a shock, she said.
This video is from CNN’s Situation Room, broadcast July 28, 2009.