‘Tireless’ search underway for missing North Jersey veteran
WALDWICK — An Army veteran battling PTSD has been missing since Friday morning, and his family is hoping the public can help get him home safe.
Thomas Podschelne was last seen leaving his job at the Clifton Stop & Shop early Friday morning, telling his wife he would be home soon. That never happened, and now his daughter Chelsea said he could be any number of places.
"He tends to frequent pathways that are out of people's view. People won't see him," she said. "He'll try to take the road less traveled. He's that type of person. Boots on the ground at all times."
Podschelne served in the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and his daughter said when he came home in 2009 he could never seem to leave the battlefield behind. For almost a decade he has been seeking treatment for the condition, with nothing fully helping him, according to Chelsea.
"All he talks about is Iraq. Everything is Flashbacks to Iraq for him," she said. "You can just see it in his face. He hurts. He's in pain."
One of the biggest triggers for Podschelne's condition is stress, according to his daughter. And while she said he seemed excited about moving to a new home in town this month, that could have been what triggered his current disappearance.
Podschelne has a cell phone with him, but Chelsea said he knows that if he turns it on he'll be found, complicating the search process. She said he has a friend from the army in law enforcement who has been working "tirelessly" to help find him.
This is not the first time Podschelne has gone missing. Chelsea said in February he was missing for around 10 hours, having walked from Waldwick to Hackensack.
"He goes into military mode. You have to think like him. He goes into this survival, 'I can tough it out, don't worry about me,'" she said. "He'll think he did nothing wrong. It's not him, it's just that disease taking over his brain that he has to run from his life or something."
Podschelne was last seen wearing black jeans, a long sleeve black shirt with an Army Black Knights logo on it and the Operation Iraqi Freedom hat he can be seen wearing in the picture above. He was also wearing tan combat boots and may be carrying a black duffel bag. Chelsea said her father is not armed, but may have a pocket knife in his possession.
His daughter asked anyone who may have seen him or knows where he is to call their local police departments as soon as possible. She said she thinks the only way he would get into a police car when found is if they tell him they're going to get him help.