Lewis Berlin Hilpert is a Fayetteville native. He grew up here, worked here and became a soldier assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. Hilpert was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In 2007 on a 15-month Iraq deployment the soldier experienced war time trauma that would forever affect him, according to his mother Elizabeth Hilpert. He saw his sergeant killed in an explosion, was in a vehicle accident and in a mortar attack where he sustained physical injuries, not to mention the silent mental and emotional injuries.
Hilpert was medically discharged from the Army with a 40 percent disability.
In August of 2010 the veteran, at the time Hilpert, age 29, was accused by the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office of killing Edward Starr Cook III, 51, in a mobile home south of Linden near the Cape Fear River.
According to a Fayetteville Observer report, Hilpert pleaded guilty in 2012 to second-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon for shooting Cook to death and stealing his property in August 2010.
The veteran was sentenced on Friday to a minimum of 18 years, five months in prison, to include his two and a half years of jail time served while awaiting his trial.
Elizabeth Hilpert was confused because the Cook was like a father figure to her son and the pair were always seen together and had a true friendship. She blames the medication for PTSD that her son was taking for the incident.
In 2008, after he was back from the war, Lawrence Hilpert, his father said, he found his son in the bathtub, scrubbing his bare feet. He said he asked him what was wrong, according to a Fayetteville Observer report.
"I can't get the blood off my boots," Lawrence Hilpert said his son told him.
"Lewis," he said he responded, "You're not wearing any boots."
In June 2012, Army Research announced they were looking at new PTSD treatment.
Col. Carl Castro, director of the Military Operational Medicine Research Program, has program funds that studies into PTSD at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, Md.
"Some of the early initial data," Castro said, "looks like we can really treat soldiers in a two-week compressed time frame. And then we're also looking to see about follow-up, modifying the treatment as we go: the grief, the anger, the second guessing."
Traditionally, he said, psychotherapy is one session per week for 10 weeks. But with the new compressed time frame the Army will use individual and group therapy because Castro wants to take advantage of the natural bonding and cohesion that exists within the military to facilitate recovery.