The parents of Daniel Somers, an Iraq war veteran who committed suicide last year, appeared on CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin’s program on Friday, where Baldwin asked them to read portions of the suicide note written by their son. Howard Somers’ recitation of his son’s words left Baldwin momentarily speechless — an unusually quiet and emotional moment on cable news.
“Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me,” Howard Somers read. “I cannot laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.”
Baldwin waved a hand in front of her face, choking up.
“Forgive me,” she said. “This is tough.”
Jean and Howard Somers have been calling for improvements in the Veterans Affairs system since shortly after Daniel shot and killed himself last June at the age of 30. Following his service in Iraq, Daniel Somers suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other conditions. He sought treatment from the same Phoenix VA facility now at the center of the current VA scandal, which led to Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation on Friday.
Baldwin asked the couple to describe Daniel’s experience seeking treatment from the VA, and to offer their ideas for some solutions to the issues with the system.
“I like to compare the VA right now to Ma Bell, it’s become a bureaucracy,” Jean Somers said. “The VA is two things, it has a medical side and it has a business side. The business side is what is really, really broken. And that is the bureaucracy, and that’s what we need to restructure.”
You can watch part of the segment here:
And you can read Daniel Somers’ suicide note in full here.