Just what could spark a man who appears to have so much to live for to contemplate ending it all? The answer seems to be buried in the pages of his military records. “April 6, 2002, running up ladder well, hit head on bulkhead,” the entry states.Anton remembers the night battle station alarms were sounded on-board the Stennis. That’s when a heavy metal hatch slammed down on his head. “Bam! I was sitting on the ground and grab my hand and there was blood all over it,” he said. “And I was just kind of like, whoa!”
Anton remembers the night of April 6, 2002 when battle station alarms were sounded on-board the U.S.S. Stennis. That’s when a heavy metal hatch slammed down on his head.
He remembers vomiting and being treated on the ship. “Took me down to medical got me stitched up and went right back to work.” The blow to the head was soon forgotten. But within a few months the young sailor says he started having mysterious problems. “Sleeping was one of my main issues and anger,” he said. “I fly off the handle, bad anger issues.”His wife noticed the changes, too. “I started realizing the guy that I married, I wasn’t sure who was going to wake up every morning,” she said.
After leaving the Navy, Anton Welke and Christina returned home to Plainview and started a family. But the once happy-go-lucky Anton seemed to be battling an ever-growing list of internal demons.
After leaving the Navy, Anton and Christina returned home to Plainview and started a family. But the once happy-go-lucky Anton seemed to be battling an ever-growing list of internal demons. “Dr. Jekyll and Hyde, you know,” he said. “I’d just get mad at my wife. I get mad, I lose feelings in my arms. And just - I’m so drained, I can’t stay awake.”“He has a sleeping disorder,” said Christina as she listed his problems. “He has a mood disorder, he has panic disorder, he has been diagnosed with PTSD.”In 2012, believing Anton’s issues might be related to his military service, his private doctors recommended he go to the VA for help. “I truly thought I was going for help,” Anton said. “He’s trying to tell them I need help,” his wife remembers. “Not I need money, I need help! Help me!”Because of the old blow to the head detailed in his service records, Anton received a traumatic brain injury or TBI exam by a doctor in the Compensation and Pension Department at the Minneapolis VA. Records show Dr. Wanda Blaylark did not do any “neuropsychological testing” and did not diagnose a TBI. With no diagnosis, Anton was sent home with no TBI treatment.“It’s a big thing to sit and wonder in your head, am I nuts?” he said.The veteran found himself at his church, spending hours on his knees, contemplating taking his life.
“I just had nothing left in me,” he remembers. “I didn’t care no more. I was physically and mentally tired.”Looking up - and inside himself - Anton says he found strength through faith and family.
As he battled the symptoms of his head injury, Anton says he found strength through faith and family.
“In our most intimate moments, he’s looked at me in the eyes and said 'I’m trying, I’m trying. Like I don’t want to lose you guys',” Christina recalls.“I knew I still had something to live for,” the father of two insists.But the question remained, why did he have these problems? Three years would pass, before the Welke’s got an answer.