An Air Force captain from Florida who served in active duty for 11 years has committed suicide after she was sexually assaulted while in Afghanistan.
Jamie Brunette, 30, shot herself with a Smith & Wesson .380 handgun, according to the Tampa Tribune.
Police found her body in the back of her vehicle parked near her apartment building on February 9. Brunette’s older sister, Jackie Leverich, 40, said that her family was shocked when they heard what happened to the accomplished veteran.
“She had so much going for her,” Leverich said of her sister, who was in the process of starting a fitness business after leaving active duty.”She was so full of hope and wonderment and passion and excitement for life.”
Brunette ended her active duty stint this past June. Upon returning, her family noticed a change.
“She seemed upbeat,” Leverich said, “but she wasn’t really giving us a whole lot of detail about life and what was going on.”
She added, “I suspect she was assaulted, and she didn’t feel comfortable reporting it for some reason and internalized the incident so she could finish her deployment, which she did with flying colors.”
Leverich admitted that she did not have any proof of the assault nor had her sister said anything about it, but as a long time member of the Coast Guard, she has a gut feeling based on her own experience.
“It’s not anything she told me, just from talking with all her friends this past week, and piecing those things together,” Brunette’s sister said. ”I am female active duty, 18 years in the Coast Guard. I am well aware of those issues, and that’s my gut feeling.”
Brunette’s business partner, Lt. Col Kurt Spranger, confirmed some of Leverich’s suspicions.
“I do not know the detail, but unequivocally I can say, yes, something happened, something that should never happen to a human,” Spranger said. Something happened and it was why she wanted to get out. So she wouldn’t have to deploy again.”
There were multiple signs that Brunette was battling depression, including the medical examiner’s initial report stating that she suffered from depression and anxiety and had a “long tobacco and alcohol abuse history.”
Brunette’s roommate has also said that her friend suffered from post-traumatic stress and that she struggled with depression.