Justin Eldridge's Battle With PTSD Ended In Tragedy Last Night

Waterford Police responded to a 911 call but were unable to prevent the former U.S. Marine from taking his own life at his home in Waterford.

Joanna and Justin Eldridge of Waterford at the Marine ball.
Joanna and Justin Eldridge of Waterford at the Marine ball.

Former U.S. Marine Justin Eldridge lived through mortar fire in Afghanistan but, tragically, last night, he lost his long battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

At about 9 p.m. on Oct. 28, Waterford Police responded to a 911 call from his wife, Joanna, who feared her husband intended to harm himself. Waterford Police arrived at the family home at 147 Great Neck Road, where they learned Justin had a gun and that the couple's four children were also in the home. 

As police surrounded the house, the Connecticut State Police Emergency Services Unit attempted to make contact with Justin, to no avail. When police finally entered the home, they found Justin dead of an apparent self-inflicted wound. 

His final message, posted on his Facebook Page at about 9 p.m., "theres only so much bashing someone can take before they react........."  A post to his Facebook about 12 hours earlier perhaps summed up his long battle with PTSD, "invincibility isn't a gift, it's a curse."

In an interview with Patch in June to promote a fundraiser to benefit the Wounded Warrior Foundation, Justin's wife Joanna detailed her husband's struggles. Justin served in the Marine Corps for eight-and-a-half years and served in Afghanistan before he was medically retired in 2008. He had severe PTSD, suffering from depression and erratic mood swings. He also suffered from a traumatic brain injury, which went undiagnosed for a long time. 

After fighting for his country, Justin had to fight again to get the benefits and the specialized treatment he needed. His wife, Joanna, became his advocate and stayed home to take care of him and their four children. Justin's medical and psychological issues made it impossible for him to work, so he was a stay-at-home dad too, and Joanna said that the kids loved having him around. 

"Seeing him go through all of this, trying to get better for his family — he is my hero," Joanna told Patch in June. 

Now, sadly, another hero has been lost to a battle against an unseen enemy that proved to be so much harder to fight.

If you or someone you know is struggling and may be contemplating suicide, please know there is help available 24/7 at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. There is also a veterans' crisis line: www.veteranscrisisline.net
Frank LaFerriere October 29, 2013 at 06:17 PM
Barbara Strickland October 29, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Joanna I am praying for you and your family. I am so sorry for your loss. RIP Justin Eldridge
Kelley Stillman-Hamrick October 29, 2013 at 06:53 PM
There is help for his family through the TAPS, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. I lost my little brother in a murder-suicide and he was in the Air Force. Please contact them, they can help with free counseling, anything! www.taps.org
Kelley Stillman-Hamrick October 29, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Im so sorry for this family's loss and that they have to know this hell of being survivors. Please contact TAPS, they were truly our guiding light in our loss, and they can help both Joanna and the children.
Ismael Arellano October 29, 2013 at 07:54 PM
This is tragic I served with Eldridge for almost 4 years and lived with him a few times in the barracks at motor-t school. My eyes are watery as I write this since I really fought with Eldridge allot and we never saw eye to eye on anything. I bought some cheap scooby doo sheets when we first got to Lejuene and Eldridge started talking smack about that. Eldridge also took pictures of me in Leonard Wood in my underwear (While Asleep) and then gave then posted the pictures on the female side. If it wasn't one thing it was another. But I know Eldridge loved the Corps and I remember when he volunteered to leave to Afghanistan. We were in Camp Fuji and all he talked about was his career in the Corps. Eldridge would give you the shirt of his back and had a big heart. He really cared about his family and friends. This is hitting me pretty hard and I'm sorry to hear about the incident and what his children and wife went thru! I'm in pain since I would consider Justin a brother!
Deb Waters October 29, 2013 at 08:12 PM
Joanna I am truly sorry for what you and the kids are going through Aunt Debbie
Jeanne Copeland Harper October 29, 2013 at 08:42 PM
It is truly a sad moment when we lose another Veteran to PTSD from a war where no one wants us there in the first place. As the mom of four military kids, I am truly sorry for your loss. When you can, let God into your heart, and let Him comfort you and your family.
Dawn Robinson October 29, 2013 at 08:47 PM
RIP Justin. I never was given the honor of meeting you or your lovely family but your death moved me to tears. Joanna- as a mother with a double amputee son courtesy of Afghanistan, I send you and the children heartfelt condolences, love and many prayers. I know this will not mend your broken heart and I wish this had never happened; nothing any one of us say will erase this pain but know, we share in your grief. I hug you from afar and keep you close in my heart. - Dawn
Joanna Gallup Eldridge October 29, 2013 at 08:50 PM
thank you all for your lovely sentiments. our family is struggling but we will get through like Justin taught us. We love him and miss him. Please if you have PTSD get help get it now. Don't suffer in silence.
Alexa Truax Broome October 29, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Joanna, we r devastated to read of your husband's death & his battle with PTSD. My husband has suffered with PTSD since Nam & it is a daily struggle, especially with the VA not providing enough treatment...u & your family will be in our prayers....take care of yourself & be sure u have a professional to talk, most family members will have some form or secondary PTSD... God bless u & your children.
David Rick Hurley October 29, 2013 at 09:12 PM
GOD bless you Joanna, during this tragic time, you reach out to advise others, you are truly a good woman. And to Justin, semper fi marine, and gods speed my brother
Marina Khalil October 29, 2013 at 09:43 PM
You dont know me but i began to read this on my fb page. My eyes are watering because heres yet another soul who struggled with the affects of PSTD . I ask why the President does not address these kind of issues after so many Vets loose or struggle to keep there benifits. This shouldn't be. These guys, gals, such as your husband should have the red carpet rolled out for them when they return. I share my support with you and your family . I hope there is much support for you and the boys as you are dealing with this. They risk their lives for us , many dont make it back home, but when they do there should be enough back up to make sure they continue back into civilian life as best as possible. Its traggic to read this. I am terrible sorry for your lose. God Bless you and your family.
Nora Benson October 29, 2013 at 10:39 PM
So sorry for your loss and your children's loss. Praying for you and your family. Wish there was more help made available to our veterans. God Bless you and your family.
Jill Rosett Konopka October 29, 2013 at 10:51 PM
My heart goes out to you and your family, sending prayers. Also asking for prayers of those still suffering, these young men and women literally put their lives on the line for our freedom (which in this particular war is questionable). my son and my grandson's mom are also in and out of that mess over there. It saddens my heart as I know my son is suffering from PTSD also, and I will be forwarding the taps website to him. God bless
Kelley Stillman-Hamrick October 29, 2013 at 11:13 PM
This saddens me so much. Im going to CO with TAPS this weekend for our annual national military suicide survivor seminar. Joanna, i lost my little brother to suicide in June 2009. I went to Griswold with Dan i think. Please if there is anything I can do to help you and your family, especially the children, im here. Youre not alone and though i would never say i know how you feel, i understand this pain. Kell1180@hotmail.com
Angela Paschen Carney October 30, 2013 at 06:46 AM
My heart goes out to Justin's family, friends and those who also felt his pain, frustration and hopelessness as I do. PTSD is no joke, I have spent the last five years diagnosed with it, and depression among other illnesses and I still have not found any peace Or program that helps. We need Better Programs and Hope. My thoughts and prayers to you all. Much Respect. Big Hugs
Bonnie Moore October 30, 2013 at 07:52 AM
My heart goes out to the family. May God bless you and guide you through such a difficult time.
Mare October 30, 2013 at 10:42 AM
Our war hero's deserve much better care than they are getting, my husband included. Ditto the first statement, please post the needs of the family. Love and prayers from Pennsylvania, our hearts are there with you.
Wes Farmer October 30, 2013 at 12:12 PM
Seeing PTSD affect friends and co-workers over the years. Learned a lot, but I thought I knew is the difference. I experienced my first break down this year. I thought willpower is all a man needs to conquer mental issues. NOPE...boy was I wrong. This isn't physical pain from a gash as you march on. You can't simply muscle through this. If I had not caught mine early and recognized I need help, I would be dead or in prison by now. Saratonin bottoming out in your brain is a real thing. Daymares are no joke and replay without choice. Logically you know your brain F's wiht you, but emotionally you are tortured for days. Anyone who has daymares and thinks they can wait it out, stop it. You may be a strong man, but all of us needs help at some point. I understand that saying of "Invincible is a curse." cause people believe you to be tough as nails, but even nails can bend. Hardly anyone checks to see if you are ok, cause they see you as TOUGH...hardly anyone thinks to hug you "cause you are Tough". Yet inside you are screaming for someone to understand you and helps.
Michael Webster October 30, 2013 at 03:07 PM
your war is over, R.I.P BROTHER
kimmykat910 October 30, 2013 at 03:08 PM
My thoughts and Prayers To Justins Family.PTSD is a Silent killer,Serving your Country and Contracting this disease is Awful.Thank you to ALL the Men and Women who Serve this Country you are all Blessings.
Ken Bullseye Jenzen October 30, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Semper Fi Marine. We have the watch.
Kelley Stillman-Hamrick October 30, 2013 at 05:24 PM
And one thing people dont see is that the soldier not only lives with their mental anguish with PTSD but the family inherits it as well. And when my brother died, I definitely had it and diagnosed with it. The words do not exist to make anyone feel better and all you can do is support them through this, and even when you dont know what to say, just listening to them and saying nothing is volumes to us. And just doing something to help, even chore type stuff is immeasureable. No doubt all of those affected by losing Justin are feeling like they are on a nightmare roller coaster they cant get off of and in a fog. Life as they knew it is changed forever and they have to start on a path of being in a "new normal." This kind of grief is like no other and there is no "time limit" to it. It has been 4 years for me and I still think of my brother Eric every single day. And do not be afraid to say Justin's name thinking it will make them sad. Not saying it hurts more as if their existence ceases. We may cry, but it is that acknowledgement that helps. Joanna, as I've read has done so much to support him through the wounded warriors project and bringing awareness to those suffering, this dialogue needs to keep going now more than ever. Everyone is aware of it but it needs to go further to prevent this and help our troops and their families more than ever now. And if you can imagine even a little of what Wes said it's like, multiply that by 100 and thats scratching the surface. It's ok to ask for help. Please do.
Kevin McClintic October 30, 2013 at 09:24 PM
Too all who suffer and all who suffer with them ...God be with you. To this marine's family thanks for the sacrifice. Prayers be with you in this time.
Crystal Klekotka October 30, 2013 at 11:00 PM
I will miss you old friend. :(
nascarblue October 31, 2013 at 07:32 AM
This is beyond sad and tragic, my deepest and heartfelt Prayers go out to your family, your children, there are so may men and women that suffer from PTSD, when they come home they need to get the help they need from the government that sent them to war, God Bless, RIP Justin
GAIL WHITRIGHT November 01, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Lydia November 04, 2013 at 09:59 AM
another casualty to PTSD; my condolences to the family, and may he finally find his peace
trudy nelson November 04, 2013 at 01:05 PM
Such a tragic loss to his family and his country. y prayers are with the loved ones left behind.It is a senseless loss, when our vets. cannot get the help they need to fit back in society.Our country are doing an injustice to our vets. and their families.The fight for the country they and the people they love and the governrment treats them like crap. Seems our once great Nation has gone to Hell in a handbasket.Please pray for our nation and our troops and their families.
Diane Shipmaker Spencer November 04, 2013 at 07:41 PM
I'm so terribly sorry to hear about you and your family's tragic loss. PTSD in itself is a tragedy and having to fight the government every step of the way for health support is just wrong any way you look at it. What a sad double standard the government has to send soldiers into a combat situation that nobody wants and then letting the survivors 'twist in the wind' when they are sent home! There is such a 'caste' system these days between governing authorities and the rest of the people - it's immoral!!!


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