Wednesday, June 5, 2013

After four tours, PTSD and TBI Staff Sgt. Bales to plead guilty

US soldier pleads guilty in Afghan massacre

After four tours, PTSD and TBI Staff Sgt. Bales to plead guilty
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
June 5, 2013

Who is really guilty here? What is the military doing? Are they trying to say that Staff Sgt. Bales is the only one responsible for the deaths of the Afghan civilians? What about sending Bales back into combat for the fourth time with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury? What about the medication he must have been on? Any clue on any of these questions?

If you believe this is cut and dry, you are not paying attention to what else has been going on and what kind of ramification this case has.

"Defense attorneys have argued that Bales, the father of two from Lake Tapps, Washington, was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury even before his deployment to Afghanistan."
U.S. soldier expected to plead guilty to killing Afghans in cold blood
By Eric M. Johnson
Jun 5, 2013

(Reuters) - A U.S. Army sergeant charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians in cold blood was due in court on Wednesday for a court-martial proceeding in which he is expected to plead guilty under a deal with military prosecutors to avoid the death penalty.

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, a decorated veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, is accused of roaming off his Army post in the Afghan province of Kandahar last March and gunning down unarmed villagers, mostly women and children, in attacks on their family compounds.

The shootings marked the worst case of civilian slaughter blamed on a rogue U.S. soldier since the Vietnam War and further eroded strained U.S.-Afghan relations after more than a decade of conflict in that country.

Defense lawyer Emma Scanlan told Reuters last week that Bales had agreed to plead guilty during the hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state to 16 counts of premeditated murder, as well as to charges of attempted murder and assault.
read more here

This is a high profile murder trial because of the horrific nature of the crime Bales is planning to plead guilty of committing. The problem is, Bales had PTSD and TBI along with being redeployed instead of treated properly. We have heard the claims the military has made about treating the soldiers for these injuries and how they have "trained" them to be "resilient" and prevent PTSD. As those claims have been made over and over again, we have also seen the rise in suicides tied to military service, the flood of veterans filing claims with the VA and showing up in more and more veterans courts across the country.

Adverse effects of sleep medications causing emergency situations but the DOD has been using them on soldiers in Afghanistan just as they did in Iraq. There are warnings for these drugs for the civilian population but it appears the military does not think these soldiers are as human as the rest of us. They simply ignored the warnings.

Everything indicates what the military has been doing has failed. As with the case of Sgt. John Russell and his guilty plea for killing five service members at Camp Liberty Stress Clinic in Baghdad Iraq.

Russell had sought help for PTSD. "As part of last month's plea agreement, Russell described to the court how he killed Navy Cmdr. Charles Springle, Army Maj. Matthew Houseal, Sgt. Christian Bueno-Galdos, Spec. Jacob Barton and Pfc. Michael Yates Jr." What this guilty plea did was remove accountability from the military itself.

Two high profile murder cases, two guilty pleas and no one taking any responsibility for either of these cases no matter what led to them happening in the first place. Soldiers do not turn into murderers for no reason at all. Both of these soldiers sought help for what combat was doing to them.

Afghanistan veteran accused of stabbing policeman to remain in custody. Another case from Texas, "Sgt. Paul Sasse arrived at Fort Carson in February in a uniform glistening with decorations from three combat tours: five medals for heroism, four for excellence, three for good conduct and one for nearly getting killed in Iraq. The 32-year-old Special Forces soldier also wore shackles. He was facing court-martial for assaulting his wife and two military police officers. Sasse had been sitting in solitary confinement at the El Paso County jail for months without military charge and had been brought to the Colorado Springs Army post to be arraigned. "I just need someone to help me," he said, reaching with bound hands to show a Gazette reporter his medical files." Another case of a Veteran with PTSD sent to VA after police standoff.

There are so many cases that are not high profile but happen all over the country. No one is held accountable except for the soldier accused of committing the crimes.

When Vietnam veterans came home the only time people read about them was when one of them ended up arrested for something and the headline made sure to mention it was a Vietnam Veteran involved. The only impression of veterans people had came from those headlines. They were put on trial, convicted and sent to jail with the same thing this generation of veterans are treated for under the supervision of a judge after appearing in Veterans Court.

What is the responsibility of the military? Veterans should be treated fairly in court but they should be treated properly before it gets to the point where they are charged with committing crimes. Can all crimes be prevented? No and we see that when hearings in Congress continue without much change to prevent sexual assaults in the military. The issue is the military does a great job talking about how they have changed but when they do not accept responsibility, the public will just blame the veterans instead of the system that let them down. Who is in charge and being held accountable for what is going on?