You are hereBlogs / jimstaro's blog / A Soldier's Eye on War

A Soldier's Eye on War

By jimstaro - Posted on 06 July 2010

Local veteran's suicide reflects troubling trend


July 5, 2010 Orrin Gorman McClellan is among the war casualties that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has just begun to track — young men and women who served in the post-9/11 military, and killed themselves after struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and other war wounds.

DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES Perry McClellan and Judith Gorman put a flagpole in front of their home to commemorate their son's life and service. A talented artist, he helped his parents create a new veterans center on Whidbey Island before taking his life in May.

Orrin Gorman McClellan grew up among the alder and cedar that cover his family's 11-acre homestead on Whidbey Island. He relished painting, music and acting, playing the star role of Toad in a local production of "The Wind in the Willows."

McClellan seemed an unlikely Army recruit. But in the post-9/11 world, he responded to talk of honor, service and camaraderie. After graduating from high school, without informing his parents, McClellan signed up for three years of active duty.

He served in Afghanistan, where he lost friends to enemy bullets, picked up the body parts of blown-up soldiers and wrestled with the emotions unleashed by combat missions.

"Have you ever felt that each word you say brings you further away from explaining yourself," he wrote in an April 30, 2005, poem in a computer journal. "Everything you create puts a sour taste in your mouth and every action you take burns you with shame."

In the fall of 2006, McClellan left the Army and came back to his Western Washington island and a strong support network eager to help him rebuild his life. But family and friends were not enough to save him.

This year, on May 18, McClellan took his life with a handgun.


"He never really came all the way home," said his mother, Judith Gorman, a social worker skilled in counseling traumatized people. "If some good can come out of this, I would like communities to be able to recognize that we all have to be able to bear some of the burden. We can't just expect veterans to heal ...

"We have to listen to their stories. Deep listening."


A Soldier's Eye on War


Perry McClellan and his wife Judith Gorman discuss the war photography of their son Orrin Gorman McClellan who served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan in 2005-2006. Orrin, who continued fighting PTSD after returning home, took his own life in 2010.



Poetry from a War Zone


Perry McClellan and Judith Gorman read the words of their son Orrin Gorman McClellan, who penned these poems while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan in 2005-2006. Orrin, who struggled with PTSD after returning home, took his own life in 2010.



In July of 2005, near the end of his time in Afghanistan, McClellan wrote a bitter ode to military recruiters:

"take your pleasantries

your generalizations, good intentions,

sweet words, and half truths,

put them in a box.

drape a flag over it.

and bury it with the rest of the dead." Continued



Support This Site


Get free books and gear when you become a supporter.



Speaking Truth to Empire


Families United


Ray McGovern


Financial supporters of this site can choose to be listed here.



Find the perfect Purple Bridesmaid Dresses for your bridesmaids from




Ca-Dress Long Prom Dresses Canada
Ca Dress Long Prom Dresses on

Buy Books

Get Gear

The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.