HAYWOOD COUNTY, N.C. — A memorial service was held on Tuesday for the Army veteran killed in a Haywood County church shootout with police last week.
Friends of 44-year-old Wade Allen Baker say he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from his several years in the military. As he’s laid to rest, they hope his death raises awareness of PTSD.
Shannon Sabados says she promised Baker that she would take action. She’s starting a group called The Women Behind The Soldiers Hearts.
“It’s going to be on Facebook and eventually we’ll have an 800 number and it’s not just going to be for the soldiers. It’s going to be for their family,” she says.
Aaron Hoelzer also served in the Army. He and Baker were stationed together for a time in the mid-90s. He says all soldiers have some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“You go for a year long…where at any time you could be attacked. It’s almost like a car accident for 365 days,” he says.
Hoelzer doesn’t know what triggered Baker to hole up inside the Maple Grove Baptist Church last week, dying in a shootout with police. He does know about battlefield stress, one of his brothers-in-arms taking a mortar 4 feet away from him.
“It killed him and I survived and that was something that was real hard to deal with for a long time.”
Hoelzer applauds a Veterans Administration plan to place soldiers who’ve experienced PTSD as counselors. He’s even applied to be one. He says that way a soldier is more likely to open up.
Baker leaves behind a big family including nine children. As a family lays their loved one to rest, these two friends say you can remember the Baker family with prayers or donations to aGoFundMe account.
“I want to make things as easy for the children so they don’t have to suffer any more than what they do,” says Sabados.