A 7,000-Mile Sniper Shot

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Marine Corps photo by Sgt Michael A. Blaha

Marines in Anbar Province, Iraq, in 2005

Jeff Hackett died in the war. He was a career Marine, a mustang who rose through the enlisted ranks to become a gunnery sergeant, then through the officer ranks to become a major. In Iraq, Jeff led a highly specialized unit of Marines searching and destroying improvised explosive devices (IEDs) before they could kill other Marines. It was tough, dangerous work. Eight of his Marines died on the mission.

When he came home from Iraq, Jeff Hackett wasn’t right. His behavior was erratic, especially to friends who had known him for years. He left the service and drifted from job to job, when he could find work. Eventually, he was doing manual labor in Wyoming. He felt like a failure, a joke. He killed himself. And then, if you can believe it, things got even worse.

Jeff wasn’t able to keep up the payments on his Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) policy after he retired. He paid in full each month of the 26 years he served in the Marine Corps. But afterwards, because he missed a few payments when he was struggling, the insurance company refused to pay off.

Hackett was only one of an average of 18 veterans who killed themselves that day almost two years ago. He died in a parking lot in Cheyenne, Wyoming. But in my book, his suicide might as well have been a 7,000-mile sniper shot. Jeff Hackett died in the war. And the damned insurance company ought to pay what it owes his family.

Read more about Jeff Hackett and the efforts to take care of his family in this Washington Post article by Greg Jaffe.