Stars and Stripes reports:
“I’m Robert Anthony Quinones, but my friends call me Q,” the former Army sergeant told the ER medic as he pointed a 9 mm handgun at the medic’s head.
“Can I call you Q?” asked the nervous medic, Sgt. Hubert Henson.
“OK,” Henson replied. “Well, Q, if you put the gun away, I can take you upstairs to behavioral health to get help.”
Quinones scoffed, instead ordering Henson to carry his three bags: a shaving kit, a duffel stuffed with clothes and books, and a backpack bulging with two assault rifles, a .38-caliber handgun, knives and ammunition.
Fifteen months of carnage in Iraq had left the 29-year-old debilitated by post-traumatic stress disorder. But despite his doctor’s urgent recommendation, the Army failed to send him to a Warrior Transition Unit for help. The best the Department of Veterans Affairs could offer was 10-minute therapy sessions — via videoconference.
So, early on Labor Day morning last year, after topping off a night of drinking with a handful of sleeping pills, Quinones barged into Fort Stewart’s hospital, forced his way to the third-floor psychiatric ward and held three soldiers hostage, demanding better mental health treatment.
“I’ve done it the Army’s way,” Quinones told Henson. “We’re going to do it my way now.”
The standoff ended after two hours without any injuries, but Quinones’ problems were only beginning.
While in custody, Quinones threatened the lives of President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, making his already bleak situation worse. Now he’s sitting in a jail cell awaiting his fate on a litany of federal charges while a court sorts out whether he should be prosecuted or committed.
Quinones’ story is one of an ordinary soldier who went off to war, came home broken, and then went over the edge after the government didn’t do enough to fix him. Even the three soldiers held at the point of Quinones’ guns today express more empathy than animosity for their captor.
To them, what Quinones did that day was the ultimate cry for help.