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AWOL W/PTSD? FUBAR
May 25, 2007 4:52 PM   Subscribe

Court martialed for PTSD? "But I'm very concerned that, in a time when the Army is going out there and saying, we're trying to make sure that we provide good counseling for the troops, that, when someone has asked for help, they're potentially facing a court-martial. "
posted by Smedleyman (20 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Last link has some ideas if anyone is in Chicago over the Memorial day weekend and is looking for something to do. (Also, more interesting stuff from Sheehan-Miles on the academic question)
posted by Smedleyman at 4:57 PM on May 25, 2007


I've taken my father to the VA hospital many times over the years. I've witnessed how horrible that place is. The wait times are hours, even with an appointment. The care is basically triage and forget, they don't have the resources or staff to treat people. And you are lucky if you get a doctor than can speak english.

This isnt anything new, politicians have known about this for years. This isnt some new secret. The whole money pit of Iraq could have at least some money for military hospitals, counseling, rehab, and physical therapy, etc. Support our troops stickers piss me off.
posted by IronWolve at 5:07 PM on May 25, 2007


The Veterans Health Administration system is not mentioned in the front page article, or any of the other links. The VA hospitals are for veterans, as well as their families, not enlisted soldiers.
posted by raysmj at 5:17 PM on May 25, 2007


Nothing a bright yellow ribbon can't fix.
posted by brain_drain at 5:19 PM on May 25, 2007


Not exactly "court martialed for PTSD" but for going AWOL to get help for it outside the military medical system, which he evidently felt wasn't helping him.

“They just kept putting treatment off. They told me to basically deal with it. I made everyone in the chain of command aware that I was having issues. They just blew it off,” Cherry said.

"Our records indicate he was receiving treatment. But if a soldier goes AWOL, they negate the opportunity for treatment," Abel said.

I see he's facing a possible bad-conduct discharge -- which would make him ineligible for any kind of VA benefits, such as they are.
posted by pax digita at 5:45 PM on May 25, 2007


Wasn't helping him? Sounds like they were outright refusing him care.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:56 PM on May 25, 2007


The thing where "the Army made no effort to find him," isn't really anything important. They pretty much wait for AWOL/desertions to pop up on the system somewhere, speeding ticket or whatever. It wouldn't really be worth sending out, like, bountyhunters or whatever.

I wish I could offer some insight into the Ft. Drum mental health system (sort of, I'm glad I don't have any issues that sent me to it), but this does seem at odds with the screening process I went through upon return from A-stan. I mean they give you a lot of opportunities to ask for help, so it seems weird that he wouldn't actually be able to get an appointment and get in. Hell, the post has one (1) chiropractor and it was trivially easy for me to get an appointment with him.

There might have been some sort of weirdness with his particular unit, like his 1SG stopping him from going because sometimes 1SGs are crazy assholes? Or maybe things were just different in 2005.

But, you know, hey. With all the furor and the psych on his side, I bet he gets a general or a medical discharge, and he gets to keep the tax-free re-up bonus I'm sure he got. And he's getting out. Looks like it all worked out to me.
posted by kavasa at 6:11 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is not a new story. Military Families Speak Out (mfso.org) has been involved in this issue for a while.

The lack of treatment for those suffering from PTSD while in the service, as well as for those returning to civilian life is appalling.

Yet we continue to fund this atrocity.
posted by HuronBob at 6:12 PM on May 25, 2007


kavasa.... from one vet to another...first..thanks for what you've done.

But...your comment "Looks like it all worked out to me." probably isn't true. PTSD is often not seen as significant by those that don't suffer from it, yet it can debilitate an individual for the rest of his or her life. "Getting out" doesn't mean it "all worked out".
posted by HuronBob at 6:17 PM on May 25, 2007


Hey, support the troops!!
posted by Floydd at 6:18 PM on May 25, 2007


"Yet we continue to fund this atrocity."

Just as we've funded so many atrocities in the past whilst ignoring the same situation in those we've sent to engage in them.

And it'll keep happening until voters and other concerned parties truly want change and are willing to suffer in order to achieve it.
posted by batmonkey at 6:23 PM on May 25, 2007


Huron, heh, thanks to you too.

That said, I was half-joking with that comment. Half-not, but you know how it is. I just don't think we're seeing the whole story here, from everything I've seen of healthcare on Drum. The Guthrie clinic is expansive, well-maintained, and full of shiny new stuff. Wilcox is showing its age, but they're renovating. Connor is getting new goodies. Really, there's new stuff all over post, medical and not.

But then, it's 2007, and that was 2005.
posted by kavasa at 6:34 PM on May 25, 2007


You know, I'm sure everyone's heard that Bush signed the Iraq war funding bill. It has 20 b(B!)illion in pork*. I would really like to know just how much of the $124 billion in there goes to help soldiers like this.


*That's the payoff to the Dems for willfully and completely disregarding the majority of American citizens who voted them into office to STOP things like this, but I digress...
posted by krash2fast at 7:14 PM on May 25, 2007


If jesus and the president want to shit on this good man then I'm sure there's a reason for it. Maybe we should be happy with our lot in life and not complain so much.
That's just what Obama wants. I meant Osama. No, really.
posted by 2sheets at 8:44 PM on May 25, 2007


The month Spc. Eugene Cherry went AWOL my son Robert, a member of the same brigade, asked for a transfer to a battalion that was then going to Iraq. Robert's request was refused and he was given a difficult, and important, mission as a recruiter.

Eugene Cherry is looking at a bad discharge for going home. Robert shot himself dead playing a classic PTSD 'game' while excelling at his new mission, in Wichita, which was so close to home and about which we were so glad.

Robert and I had talked about how to get him counseling without screwing up his career. His recruiting mission was intense and he would have much preferred to have returned to Iraq with his unit. The military doesn't have many options. It's either "no problem" or "you're fucked."

I think the only thing that could have saved my only child's life, and the only thing that could have saved Eugene Cherry from this crap while he's still living his life, is x-number of mandatory counseling sessions for every soldier who has been to a combat zone.

It's a pipe-dream, I know. But it's thing only thing that might have kept Robert alive and Eugene out of this shit.

And, their brigade is taking some serious shit right now.
posted by taosbat at 10:55 PM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


taos, I'm so sorry for your loss.

However, I don't think that would be a solution, either. I'm pretty sure that would result in the assembly-line philosophy that is already so prevalent in the military. Instead of real treatment, you'd see a lot of "check the boxes, do your 5 appointments and get out" pro-forma stuff. You'd also have people like me, who don't have PTSD, taking time away from the Soldiers that do.
posted by kavasa at 9:11 AM on May 26, 2007


The military medical system can be unbelievably stupid. While not a mental issue, a friend of mine was in the Coast Guard, and came down with some odd skin problem, driving him nuts with itching. Numberous visits to the doctor (Governor's Island) and they couldn't figure it out. It turned out to be (gasp) scabies. If anyone should know that problem, a military doc should. (My friend had to seek civilian treatment on his own).
posted by Goofyy at 10:14 AM on May 26, 2007


I know how the military medical system can be.

The last time I saw my son -- when Robert came to Taos after his second tour in Iraq -- I needed to get a blood test which could only be done at the Albuquerque VA hospital.

We hit it on our way to the airport to send him back to Ft. Drum & as we walked from the parking lot into the building, both of us visiting for the first time, I said, "Déjà vu: here's your future." Robert replied, "hush."

A year later, that test was nowhere to be found; but, it was ok to do it at my local clinic...so I got another blood-draw.

The VA wants me to drive from Taos to Albuquerque for a mammogram at the main VA hospital every year...although, there are lots of places twixt here & there which could provide that same service for less money with a sensible contracting scheme. Some of them are about 15 minutes from my home.

I was a brat, too; & I have memories of sitting in clinic waiting rooms, queuing on benches at times, so sick I was addlepated...

I know it's a pipe-dream but, if the military is required to provide only the time, referrals and vouchers to properly credentialed counselors, not the actual counseling...

I think MSWs & our troops would both be supported.
posted by taosbat at 10:40 PM on May 26, 2007


taosbat, that sucks. And it’s not just on the federal level that this crap happens. And it’s not only incompetance, but corruption and outright theft.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:08 PM on May 29, 2007


Yeah, it sucks, Smedleyman.
posted by taosbat at 7:51 PM on May 29, 2007


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