A brother remembered: 'Through his life, it will raise awareness'
EUGENE, Ore. - Michael Mason survived Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of his fellow soldiers did not.
The Army honored Mason for heroism and valor, awards he carried home along with the hidden scars of war.
Two weeks before Christmas 2010, the erratic behavior family members had noticed came to a head: Mason, the son of a Eugene Police officer, started firing a gun in a mall parking lot.
Eugene Police shot him, leaving him paralyzed.
The injuries took his life Sunday. Mason, 29, died of a brain hemorrhage Sunday at the VA hospital in Seattle.
'He's always been my best friend'
His sister wants to remember Mason as a brother - and a unique friend.
"He's always been my best friend, the 3 of us are connected forever," said Sara Mason as she showed a picture of her, Michael and their sister Raelynn. "The 3 of us are connected forever."
In 2005, the Michael Mason survived an IED blast in Afghanistan that killed four of his buddies. The shattering experience led to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, for which he received some treatment.
The district attorney cited that PTSD when he declined to bring any criminal charges against Mason in the 2010 incident that left him paralyzed. "Prosecuting this young man would be a waste of time," Alex Gardner said at the time.
The gunshot injury he suffered to the neck in 2010 is blamed for his death this week.
"Although the last two years have been difficult, they do not define the man he was," Sara Mason said. "A heart of gold, a smile like no other, and a hug that could comfort anyone's aching soul."
'Through his life, it will raise awareness'
Despite what he went through, Sara is sure if he had it to do all over again, Michael would have enlisted in the service and gone to war.
"Michael has touched so many people not just with making the decision to serve but going through what he went through," she said.
Sara hopes through all this, that people will become more aware and understanding of the ravages of PTSD.
"I think through his life, it will raise awareness. I mean it doesn't end here and it never will," she said.
The family says funeral services for Michael Mason will be held February 9, 2013, at 2 p.m. at Springfield High School.
Contributions for a fund to help Michael's wife, Theresa, can be made at any branch of First Tech Credit Union.