BILLINGS, Mont. -- The Defense Department says a soldier from Montana -- 23-year-old Nathaneil G. Irish -- has died as a result of a non-combat related incident in Iraq.
According to Sgt. Irish's Facebook page, he was a proud Senior Bronc, attending the high school from 2010 to 2013. Several posts on his Facebook page indicate Sgt. Irish's pride for his home state of Montana. One such post showing a Montana flag with a caption saying, "halfway across the world -- and it feels like I'm six hours from home."
According to the latest numbers available from the Department of Defense, eighty-eight people have died in support of the mission. 17 of those deaths are identified as killed-in-action, while 71 are listed as non-hostile.
If you or a loved one is struggling with the loss of an enlisted family member, Montana does have resources in addition to veteran affairs. A Vet Center Director, Shad Barrows, says there are five Vet Centers across the state.
The centers provide individual and group counseling to active duty members and bereavement services to families that have lost soldiers in the line of duty. The vet center is a part of the VA, but Barrows says each center can provide more local attention.
"People look at the VA and think there's so much involved. It's hard to get an appointment, there's a lot of steps that you have to go through," says Barrows, "and while we're part of the VA we're a little separate and we're made to be more accessible to veterans. We keep our information separate from the main VA, so we're able to provide services quicker, more immediate and we offer a variety of services."
Barrows says if you or a family member you know needs assistance with bereavement -- they are just a phone call away. The Billings Vet Center's contact information can be found on their website: https://www.montana.va.gov/services/Montana_Vet_Centers.asp.