After six years and three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Corey Michael Hadley returned home to Philadelphia in 2013.
As an Army rifleman in a leadership role, Mr. Hadley had spent many days traveling door to door to root out armed militia members and terrorists who had sworn to kill Americans. For his service, he won multiple military honors.
But his experience overseas left him anguished, he told his family. He struggled with depression and PTSD. And on Jan. 2, Mr. Hadley, 30, died by his own hand in his own home.
“His wounds were slow-acting and invisible, but nonetheless crippling and fatal,” the family said in a statement. “We are unutterably heartbroken.”
Nationally, the number of deaths by suicide has risen since 2000, according to a 2019 report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. From 2005 to 2017, there was a 6.1% increase in such deaths among the veteran population, from 5,787 to 6,139. In 2017, veterans accounted for 13.5% of all deaths by suicide among U.S. adults.
Mr. Hadley was born in Detroit to Kevin and Rosalind Williams Hadley. He was raised in Mount Airy, where he was home-schooled until enrolling in W.B. Saul High School. He didn’t always pick up on social cues in high school, which made for some funny situations.
“Who can forget his teachers’ complaints when in the ninth grade he ate the apples needed for a fundraiser?” his family said in their statement.
Active in scouting, Mr. Hadley achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at age 18 and demonstrated exceptional skill as a sharpshooter. It was no surprise when he enlisted in the Army.
During his three tours, he operated in an imminent danger area in Iraq, according to his military discharge paper. For his service, he received honors including the Iraq campaign medal with three campaign stars, the Afghanistan campaign medal with one star, and the global war on terrorism service medal.
“He stared death in the face every day for six years,” his family said.
When he returned home, his mental health deteriorated. He tried medicines and other measures to counter depression, but nothing worked, his family said.
During times when the depression lifted, he enjoyed riding his motorcycle and playing with his nephews. He had a penetrating intellect, a poetic soul, and a curious Christian faith, his family said.
Last spring, he suffered a mental-health crisis. He reached out to his siblings, telling them of his anguish in a cracked, tearful voice, the family said. “We told Corey how much we all loved him, needed him, were here for him,” they said.
Afterward, he adopted a gentle, white Maltese named Eevee, a dog he loved. “We think Eevee bought us another six or seven precious months with Corey,” the family said. The dog is now with his mother.
He told his family he was buoyed by the Christian belief “that there is life on the other side of death, that we would see each other again, that death is not the ultimate reality.”
“We know that the same savior who cried out in the depths of his depression one lonely night in Gethsemane was with Corey last Wednesday night,” his family said. “Don’t misunderstand. We wish with our whole hearts that this story had ended differently. But we understand and accept that this story was his to write.”
He is survived by mother Rosalind Williams; father Kevin Hadley; his former wife, Lauren; two sisters; two brothers; a half-brother; grandmothers Rachel Lazarus and Jan Hadley; and three nephews.
A viewing starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, will be followed by an 11 a.m. memorial service at Second Baptist Church of Germantown, 6459 Germantown Ave. Interment with full military honors will be at 2:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, at Washington Crossing National Cemetery, Newtown.