Brian Callan, the Marine Corps war veteran whose life ended tragically last year in the parking lot of a Phoenix car dealership ("Welcome Back, Warrior," November 21, 2002), has been awarded a posthumous service medal.
Greg Aurand, an old Marine buddy of Callan's who lives in Idaho, enlisted the aid of U.S. Senator John McCain in collecting the belated honor the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Bronze Letter M. The "M" device normally is awarded after 10 years of reserve duty. However, all reservists such as Callan, who participated in the Persian Gulf conflict in the early 1990s, were eligible for the honor.
A longtime Tempe resident, Callan was a Marine chief warrant officer who served in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, as well as the early 1990s campaign in Somalia. Callan served honorably for more than 15 years, in two separate stints. Later, military authorities determined that his myriad physical and mental infirmities were 100 percent service-connected. He had reenlisted in the Marines in 1990 hours after learning that Iraq had invaded Kuwait.
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Callan was 44 when he committed suicide by shotgun last September at Bell Road Toyota, moments after Phoenix police showed up at the scene. Callan had gone there to try to undo a deal he'd made one day earlier for a used truck. After the sales team refused to renegotiate, Callan went to the truck, collected a rifle, fired a shot into the ground, then returned to the showroom. Police officers who happened to be nearby heard the shot and responded. By then, Callan had gone back outside, where he soon turned the weapon on himself after they ordered him to surrender.
It turned out that Callan had been diagnosed with a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and was on a regimen of mood-altering drugs designed to moderate his growing bouts of anger, depression and anxiety. He had been undergoing treatment at the local VA hospital, but had been getting little in the way of therapeutic counseling.
Callan's mother, Jerri Glover, also a Tempe resident, met late last year with an aide to Senator McCain asking for help in learning, among other things, why VA doctors had provided her son such scant treatment. She says she still hasn't gotten much information about that, but is grateful for the posthumous honor.
"Brian was a great soldier and a great son, and he loved his country," Glover says. "I'm very proud of him, and I miss him every day."