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Military

FT. BRAGG STORIES: Helping Incarcerated Veterans

Portrait of former Staff Sergeant Josh Eisenhauer.
Dawn Erickson
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 Lynn and Steve Newsom spent five years as co- directors of Fayetteville’s Quaker House. 

During their tenure, they advocated for better mental health care for incarcerated veterans, organizing a petition and vigil in April 2016 to draw attention to the plight of former Staff Sergeant Josh Eisenhauer. 

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Eisenhauer was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following two deployments to Afghanistan. When emergency responders came to a small fire at his Fayetteville apartment in 2012, Josh barricaded the door and shotat police and firefighters. He was shot multiple times.  Waking in the hospital, Eisenhauer told his nurse he thought he was on a rooftop in Afghanistan.  He was sentenced to serve up to 18 years in prison. 

Eisenhauer had a mental breakdown in prison. His supporters argued he was not receiving adequate treatment for his PTSD and lobbied successfully to transfer him to another facility. 

 Lynn Newsom said the vigil was not only for Eisenhauer, but on behalf all incarcerated veterans.  

“I was especially gratified that at the vigil, there were people from all walks of life,” she said. “There were the old peace activists shoulder to shoulder with Vietnam veterans, VA workers, the NAACP, bikers that support prisoners of war, just a really broad spectrum, all to support our incarcerated veterans.” 

Newsom also met with state lawmakers, pushing for policy changes to help incarcerated vets. 

It’s part of a larger effort to improve mental health care for all prisoners, she said. 

“We’re hoping that by helping our veterans receive better mental health care, we’ll help everyone.”

Ft. Bragg Stories is a collaboration between the Fayetteville Observer and WUNC's American Homefront Project to commemorate a century of history at Fort Bragg through personal narratives. You can hear other stories in the series here. If you'd like to share your Fort Bragg story, you can send it here, or email fortbraggstories@wunc.org.

Activists hold signs calling for better care for incarcerated veterans at a 2016 vigil.
Credit Raul Rubiera
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The 2016 vigil for Josh Eisenhauer.

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