Iraq War veteran identified as body found in Anacostia River - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Iraq War veteran identified as body found in Anacostia River

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Arlester Jay Arlester Jay
WASHINGTON -

The troubled life of a local Iraq War veteran ended in the Anacostia River and shrouded in mystery.

Was Arlester Jay the victim of murder or a suicide?

D.C. Police are investigating the death without classifying it either way.

Jay had been missing for a month and if it's determined the unmarried Army veteran killed himself, his death will become the latest in troubling statistic.

According to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S. - basing that on a recent survey by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Arlester Jay's body was found Monday along the Anacostia in Northeast Washington by a crew team out for a row.

His family says Jay, who was 35 years old, suffered from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

"What a tragedy," laments Jay's father, Ernest, a Vietnam veteran and Methodist minister. "We don't know until the detectives finish their investigation and the medical examiner's [findings] if he committed suicide or what?"

Meredyth Jay, a Navy veteran, says her younger brother drank alcohol to ease his invisible injuries.

"He did mention a few times that he did see a couple of his friends get killed," she tells us from her father's home in Laurel. "But that was the extent. He really didn't go into detail about it because the way his face started looking. So, I'd just leave him alone and after a while, he didn't talk about it at all."

Arlester lived in Forestville. Meredyth says she spoke to him on the phone March 11 and he agreed to go to rehab.

"By the time I got there, within 20 minutes of me speaking with him, he was gone," she tells us. "I went inside the apartment. The cat was gone. He was gone. The car was gone. I tried to call him, but it went straight to voice mail after that."

The family filed a missing person report a few days later.

Fellow Iraq War veteran Que James lives in an apartment building next to Arlester's, but didn't know him.

An Army veteran who left the military in 2007, James says she, too, suffers from PTSD.

"I have some friends that actually committed suicide and they were suffering through PTSD and people don't know,” she says. “You don't see the symptoms on the outside, but it's real. It's real. And the symptoms, they linger, they linger. And I'm just starting to work through it. Just starting to get seen (at the VA) on a regular basis."

Arlester Jay's family says they will not finalize funeral plans until his remains are released by the D.C. medical examiner.


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