by Pam Zubeck
Whew! We've finally got a little information to share about the controversy that developed after Fountain City Council member Sharon Brown said she didn't think a soldier who killed himself after suffering a traumatic brain injury in combat should be honored with a scholarship.
First, the background: The Fountain Valley News reported that Brown made the comment directly to the mother of the fallen soldier, Cpl. Ricky McShan, during a Chamber of Commerce social event.
Brown apparently adopted her point of view after talking with Donald Pletcher, ROTC commander at Mesa Ridge High School.
McShan served a year tour in Iraq and a year tour in Afghanistan before returning to the states and ending his life. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Paul McShan, reportedly gave a donation to a foundation established by Susan Arnold, whose son, Spc. Ronald James Tucker, was killed in Iraq. The foundation makes scholarships to ROTC high school students. Brown reportedly objected, as did Pletcher, to the foundation accepting the donation and making a scholarship in McShan's name, due to how he died.
We've checked with several military offices but finally talked with Mike Miller, a public affairs specialist, in the Navy Junior ROTC office in Great Lakes, Ill.
He says his office looked into the matter and that Pletcher denied making the statements Brown alleged he made. "He claims that what has been reported was taken out of context," Miller says.
That said, Pletcher met with the McShans and Mesa Ridge officials and he apologized, "and they're all on the same page," Miller says. "They came to an understanding."
A Marine spokesman at the Pentagon said that it is "absolutely not" the position of the Marines to discount a service member who commits suicide. "There's not a prohibition against honoring them," the spokesman said.