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Air Force veteran with PTSD arrested at airport for unruly behavior

Junie Sihlangu
Sep 14, 2018
08:01 A.M.
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On Wednesday, military veteran Ralph Rodriguez-Hernandez was dropped off at Tampa International Airport to take a flight to see his family in Puerto Rico. However, he never made it onto the flight.

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Instead, the veteran was arrested at the airport for unruly behavior. His Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused him to become agitated when his flight got delayed.

Carmen Rodriguez is Ralph Rodriguez-Hernandez’s wife who dropped him off at the Tampa International Airport (TIA) on Wednesday. He arrived at the airport with his emotional support dog, a Rottweiler named Dax.

Rodriguez-Hernandez, 36, was prepared to board a flight to Puerto Rico. The former military man had told his wife that he needed to spend some time with his family.

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For more on this story go to our Twitter account @amomama_usa. She felt the visit could help his PTSD to be back at his parent’s home in his hometown.

Rodriguez was prepared to stay behind with their three children. However, a few hours later she received a knock at her front door by the police to notify her that her husband had been arrested.

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Dax was safely kept at the Tampa International Airport Police Department. Things went wrong for the veteran at around 2 p.m. in Terminal A outside gate A-12.

Airport officials stated that Rodriguez-Hernandez was waiting to board a Jet Blue flight to San Juan when he became upset because his plane was delayed. Officials said the veteran threatened to kill the ticket agent at the gate.

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A fellow traveler recorded the video that showed the incident. Rodriguez-Hernandez was shown removing his pants as he yelled that he didn’t have a bomb.

He sat down in the waiting area for his gate when TIA police officers responded to the situation. The veteran became violent and agitated while being taken into custody.

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At one point, he kicked an arresting officer in the face.

Rodriguez spoke about the incident after seeing the footage and said, "He completely changed like you see his eyes he is not there he is just constantly full alert."

She blamed his actions on PTSD as he’d served in the US Air Force for 16 years before recently retiring. In those years he was deployed 6 times.

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His wife recalled how he’d slowly changed over those years, "He completely changed, like how he presents himself. You can see it in his eyes."

"He's not here. He's not where he's at. He's just thinking about what he went through over there. He told me everything. He told me what he did, what he saw. It's horrible," she added.

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Rodriguez-Hernandez is facing a number of serious charges including aggravated assault, resisting an officer with violence and escape while transporting. He's being held in jail without bond pending a mental evaluation.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is sometimes known as shell shock or combat stress. It occurs after you experience severe trauma or a life-threatening event.

“It’s normal for your mind and body to be in shock after such an event, but this normal response becomes PTSD when your nervous system gets ‘stuck,’” according to HelpGuide.org.

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