December 3, 2015
The more reports come out about how the Army really treats soldiers it is a wonder why anyone would still want to serve. There is yet another report about how the Army is kicking out wounded instead of doing the honorable thing. How do they continue to get away with all of this? How do they keep getting away with spending billions on "prevention" as the number of suicides go up just as the number of enlisted go down? Is anyone paying attention to any of this?
Fort Knox, Sgt. Gerald Cassidy died alone from a prescription drug overdose at the Army's Warrior Transition Unit
Cassidy's family also provided to The Star key documents from the Army's investigation of his death that had not previously been released and shared some notes Cassidy wrote at Fort Knox about his anxiety over loud noises and lack of sleep and his concern for the impact of his illness on his family.
The family says it is speaking out in hopes that greater public awareness will help other soldiers get better treatment.
The family found an ally in Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, who is calling for numerous changes in the way the military handles mental health services for wounded soldiers.
"The pain is never going to go away," said Cassidy's mother, Kay McMullen, Carmel. "You've got to do something then to change the outcome for other people."
Sounded good at the time but when the news broke about how wounded in those same units were being mistreated it pretty much proved that claim back in 2008 by Senator Bayh didn't really mean very much. Dallas Morning News reported last year "Injured Heroes Broken Promises" along with NBC about how it was not just still the same as usual but even worse six years later. They followed up that report with this in February "Army to investigate mistreatment claims by injured, ill soldiers at Fort Hood" Far more wait than hurry up in Army mental care
Even as combat winds down, demand for mental health care remains high and number of staffers too few, forcing long waits.But the problem with that is, it wasn't new either. Shortages had been reported all along. Congress knew but while they held hearing after hearing no one turned on a hearing aid loud enough so they actually did something to fix any of it. This is really stunning considering that soldiers were actually cheating to stay in the Army back in 2007. Yes, you read that right.
USA Today Gregg Zoroya reported that on November 7, 2007 "Troops in Iraq and elsewhere have tried to avoid being pulled out of combat units by cheating on problem-solving tests that are used to spot traumatic brain-injury problems, military doctors say." But don't remind anyone how long all of this has been going on or the fact they are now reviewing discharges of Vietnam veterans from over 40 years ago.
Let's not talk about how there was a 40% rise in crisis calls in 2008, also reported by Gregg Zoroya. And for sure don't talk about what VA Watchdog reported on "The Army alone has a backlog of 1,890 veterans seeking corrections on their discharge papers, and some have been waiting for three years, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Many other veterans probably have faulty discharge papers but don’t know it because they have not sought benefits."
We sure as hell can't talk about how over at Fort Carson there was this piece of news reported by The Denver Post.
A Court of Inquiry is composed of at least three high-ranking military officers and can subpoena civilians. Geren can refuse the request.So it all still goes on and on. While everyone is doing a whole lot of promising to fix everything that is wrong, the only ones doing their jobs are the soldiers that get wounded and then shafted.
"It's very important for the Army and very important for my clients. This is an investigation that is long overdue," said Louis Font, a Boston attorney who represents Currie and Spec. Alex Lotero, 21, a Fort Carson soldier from Miami.
The request says the Court of Inquiry should "investigate the extent to which the (generals) have been derelict in failing to provide for the health and welfare of wounded soldiers."
Army To Review Pattern Of PTSD, Brain Injuries Discharges
Colorado Public Radio
BY NATHANIEL MINOR AND MICHAEL DE YOANNA
DEC 3, 2015
The U.S. Army says it will conduct a "thorough" review of how it discharges soldiers who were diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder or brain injuries.The Evans Army Community Hospital in Fort Carson, Colo.
In November, CPR News and NPR reported that the Army has kicked out 22,000 soldiers since 2009, who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, for "misconduct." The soldiers had also been diagnosed with mental health issues or traumatic brain injuries. Some served at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs.
Soldiers who are discharged in this way are in danger of losing their benefits, including long-term health care for disabilities that may have been caused by combat.
In the wake of that report, a group of U.S. senators, including Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet, demanded the Army investigate itself. Earlier this week, the Army sent Bennet a letter saying it was doing just that. Bennet gave the letter to CPR News on Thursday.
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