In 1994, the president of my publishing company assigned me to cover the humanitarian relief effort following the Rwandan genocide. My article became a tribute to the overlooked logistics industry for its part in making such efforts the success they are, but I also stepped into the mire of the anti-malaria drug scandal.
Cpl. Scott Smith, a peacekeeper I interviewed, later committed suicide on Christmas Eve, 1994, in Rwanda—two months before his tour of duty was up. He was coming home to a fantastic job, and in my interviews and regular talks with him, I was impressed with his upbeat, resourceful attitude. I have dealt with despondent people and know their skill for covering depression. Scott showed none of the signs, but he did talk about the terrible nightmares and diarrhea he was having especially on the days the troops took their weekly Mefloquine pill. He had endured these side effects in deployments to the Gulf War and Somalia as well. (You start taking the pill one week in advance of visiting a tropical area and for four weeks following your return.) For this assignment, the cameraman and I were also issued Mefloquine (Lariam®).