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An Iraq war veteran from Oregon has been ordered into a Veterans Affairs hospital after his roommate at a Minnesota college found guns in their dorm room and pipe bombs in his pickup a few days after the shootings at Virginia Tech.
A bomb squad was called April 20 to dispose of the two pipe bombs found in the truck of Ben Ring, a student at Martin Luther College.
Ring, 22, is charged with felony possession of explosives. He was in the process of withdrawing from the college because of his inability to keep up in his pre-seminary classes because of intense pain and the fog of drugs used to control it, college President Theodore Olsen told The Oregonian on Monday.
Ring, who deployed to Iraq with the Oregon Army National Guard, nearly died in 2004 after his Corvallis-based unit was ambushed north of Baghdad.
“Someone dropped the ball, he fell through the cracks, there is no question in my mind,” Olsen said. “He is suffering either from post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury.”
Ring’s roommate, Joshua Shander, told investigators he had Ring taken to a hospital April 20 because he was hallucinating from his narcotic pain medications. After Ring went to the local hospital, Shander found the guns and the bombs.
The charges surprised Oregon soldiers who remember Ring as a devout Christian who didn’t drink, swear or look at pornography. He wanted to become a Lutheran minister.
Bill Stout, a team leader who broke his back rendering aid to soldiers during the 2004 attack in Iraq, described Ring as “the most mellow kid, such a good-natured kid. There’s got to be some reason behind this, something that explains this.”
In an interview with The Oregonian last year, Ring said he grew up in the Coast Range community of Blodgett, west of Philomath. The eldest of four children of a Hewlett-Packard engineer, Ring was home-schooled. He earned a GED at 15 and decided to join the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry to help pay for college.
He was the turret gunner in the last Humvee in a patrol north of Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded, killing his driver and badly wounding the other four.
Eighteen months later, Ring was still on medical hold at Fort Lewis, Wash., taking morphine, Percocet and anti-seizure and antidepressant medications. Ring had an arm injury and told The Oregonian he also had constant ringing in his ears “that feels like there is a TV in my ear, ultra high pitched.” He said he fully expected he could face 30 years of discomfort.
Ring said he comforted himself by praying: “God has a reason. Who am I to say what this means? God has a plan.”
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com