On Friday, active duty Marine Sergeant Major Damien T. Rodriguez was arrested for attacking a server at a popular Middle Eastern restaurant known as DarSalam, located near the Northeastern side of Portland, Oregon. He has been charged with second-degree disorderly conduct, harassment, and second-degree intimidation, which is considered a hate crime under Oregon law. The intimidation charges were dropped, according to KGW8, but a bias crimes detective has still been assigned to the case.
Although Rodriguez was released shortly after booking, he told officers at the jail that he had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), although he could not provide a date. He also told jailers he was taking certain drugs, one of which in some instances can be used to suppress feelings of fear in patients with PTSD.
American Military News spoke to a leading PTSD expert, who said that one of the many side effects of Propranolol was curbed aggression.
DarSalam restaurant owner Ghaith Sahib spoke to KGW about the incident.
“I had my sister call me crying,” Sahib said. “We were really sad about what happened. We feel sorry for the guy and we feel sorry for ourselves, too.”
Sahib’s wife, a Portland native by birth, said one of the restaurants main missions was to show people in the city that Iraqis were people as well.
Family friend of the owners of DarSalam and combat veteran Sean Davis, who himself served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, told American Military News how the incident occurred.
“We spoke to guests sitting on the terrace who noticed two men, clearly inebriated, walking down the street when they noticed the restaurant that mentioned Iraqi food and started to curse and make racial slurs,” Davis said. “They decided to enter the establishment but refused to order food for nearly an hour. After that, they introduced themselves to one of the waiters and began to say that they had killed many Iraqis before that one man got up and hit one of the waiters with a chair.”
Davis added that it is men who lash out like Rodriguez that give veterans a bad name.
“When you do stuff like that it hurts the whole community and sets us all back another step,” Davis told American Military News. “You can’t just pull out the PTSD and use it as a get out of jail free card when it suits you.”
A Marine who served under Rodriguez when he was a 1st Sgt. in early 2012 spoke anonymously to American Military News.
“What’s funny is that every Friday, this same Marine would sit us down and tell us to not get drunk and act irresponsibly. I guess it goes to show that that would be good advice for anyone to take, not just privates and other lower ranks,” the Marine said.
Watch the news report with surveillance footage of the incident below: