Wounded Times

Where Veterans Get Their News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Command Sgt. Maj. killed in Afghanistan

Command Sgt. Maj. killed in Afghanistan
The (Salisbury, Md.)
Daily Times staff
November 26, 2014
Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Turner
(Photo: Photo via delmarvanow)
Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Turrner, assigned to a key training command in Afghanistan, was killed Monday, according to a friend and Facebook posts.

Two soldiers were killed Monday morning when a bomb hidden in the median strip of a street in eastern Kabul detonated as a convoy of coalition troops drove by, according to a New York Times report.

The bomb struck a Toyota Land Cruiser and also wounded a passerby, Afghan police told the Times.

The names and nationalities of the soldiers have not been released by the American-led International Security Assistance Force. The policy of the U.S. Department of Defense is to not release the name of casualties until 24 hours after the next of kin has been identified.

But Turner's death was confirmed by Elmer Davis, a close friend who had known Turner since high school. Davis said a family member informed him of his friend's death.

The other casualty has been identified by local media in Ohio as Spc. Joseph Riley. Riley had been in the Army less than three years, according to the report Tuesday by the NBC affiliate in Columbus.
read more here

Chuck Hagel's Last Act Should Be Holding General Odierno Accountable For Suicides

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 26, 2014

Before Chuck Hagel leaves Department of Defense he needs to hold General Raymond T. Odierno accountable for the deplorable treatment of soldiers with PTSD. There is no excuse for allowing any of this to go without explaining to families why he failed to learn what PTSD was.

Last year, without having to explain anything to anyone, Odierno laid blame on the soldiers and their families. This was an interview given to David Wood for the Huffington Post.
"First, inherently what we do is stressful. Why do I think some people are able to deal with stress differently than others? There are a lot of different factors. Some of it is just personal make-up. Intestinal fortitude. Mental toughness that ensures that people are able to deal with stressful situations.
But it also has to do with where you come from. I came from a loving family, one who gave lots of positive reinforcement, who built up psychologically who I was, who I am, what I might want to do. It built confidence in myself, and I believe that enables you to better deal with stress. It enables you to cope more easily than maybe some other people.

Then he went on to fall back on his usual line about making them resilient
So with a soldier like that, who may be at risk of suicide, how do you build resilience, give him the confidence you got when you were growing up?
Most of the time, these are good kids. The reason they came in is because they wanted to make a better life for themselves. For me, that's number one. They are doing this for a positive reason. They want to improve themselves, improve their families' ability to live.

Studies show that if they have more confidence in themselves mentally -- for example, if they increase their education, they increase their abilities to do their job in the right way, become more physically fit and are able to do well in physical training -- this starts to build their confidence. Then we try to give them coping skills and, depending on the individual, get them linked spiritually into whatever they happen to believe in.

The other piece, which the [Army] Surgeon General is working now, is the triad of sleep, nutrition and physical fitness. We are finding that, especially in high-stress environments, lack of sleep and bad nutrition potentially decreases your resilience and ability to cope. So it's all of these things we are focusing on in order to help these individuals.

Now we know because of fantastic reporting being done in Texas exactly what this attitude had produced.

Injured Heroes, Broken Promises: Hundreds of Soldiers Allege Mistreatment at Army Warrior Transition Units Wounded soldiers found harassment and verbal abuse from commanders assigned to care for the injured.
By Scott Friedman, Eva Parks and David Tarrant

Filip came home to Fort Hood suffering from post-traumatic stress — haunted by things he had seen. Then came another nightmare; the 2009 Fort Hood shooting that left 13 dead.

Filip jumped into action — helping save the life of a wounded police officer. For his heroics The Army Times named him the 2010 "Army Soldier of the Year."

"I was just kind of in awe of the whole situation”, Filip said.

But Filip said he was treated like anything but a hero at Fort Hood's Warrior transition unit or "WTU," where the Army sent him to treat his post-traumatic stress.

"WTU made everything a lot worse," Filip said. "I mean physically and mentally — especially mentally."

In page after page of documents obtained by NBC 5 Investigates, soldiers describe harassment, disrespect and unfair treatment from WTU commanders in complaints made to the Army Ombudsman and directly to unit leaders.

In some complaints anger pours out. One injured soldier writes: "This is getting to the point where it is more stressful here than it is in a combat situation. There is no dignity or respect for us."

Another said: "My stress levels are sky high, my depression is at an all-time low and I have never felt so abused, so neglected as I do right now. I completed my tour my duty and all I need is treatment." One wounded soldier reports, " ... his 1st Sgt. has 'created a climate of intimidation.'" And still another said, "she was told she's weak because she cries."

Dr. Stephen Stahl, a world renowned psychiatrist hired to train staff at Fort Hood's WTU five years ago, said the complaints do not describe an environment designed to heal the wounds of war.

In his own study of the WTUs, Stahl found many unit leaders lacked an understanding of mental health issues and that many did not believe post-traumatic stress disorder was real.

Stahl believes that drove staff to treat soldiers with PTSD like slackers who need to "man-up and move-on."

"The idea is that you're weak, you're cowardly, you're worthless, you're not strong and it's your fault," Stahl said, adding that it created a mentality that can destroy a healing soldier's self-esteem. "It also makes them doubt their medical care or their psychiatric care. The same Army that's telling you you're a slacker or a dirt bag gives you treatment and medications. Are you going to take it?"

Here is a Mom,
Suicide watch: Returning military members need support, mother warns
KENS 5
Joe Conger
November 24, 2014

SAN ANTONIO -- Doris Dodgen of Universal City says her family bleeds red white and blue. The military was her husband's passion and most of her children, too.

"A lot of pride. A lot of dedication and devotion. And a lot of patriotism. They love our country," said Dodgen.

But Brenton, Doris remembers, had a particular fondness.

"Ever since he was so young, probably age 2, he started wearing camouflage," she said.

Brenton would realize that dream. The future lieutenant was deployed overseas in the Middle East as a signal officer in Operations Enduring Freedom and Spartan Shield.

"He took it very, very seriously," his mother added.

But back stateside, something changed.

"He did come back a little different, yes. And he wouldn't talk much this time around," said Dodgen.

But he did talk on Facebook, posting a brief note one late October evening. And before Doris could reach Killeen, Texas, her son was gone.

"And I can tell you at that point in time in my life, a huge part of me died," Dodgen said.

The Department of Defense noted a self-inflicted gunshot wound was the manner of death.
read more of the story here

They started telling us they were "addressing the issue" of military suicides and the stigma of seeking help, yet above all of this, we need to add in the simple fact that in 2013 alone, 11,000 soldiers were given bad conduct discharges. Top that off with how many were forced out because of downsizing and then it is easy to see how dangerous it has been for soldiers to be treated this badly.

We see it all the time in our own communities when they commit suicide or face off with law enforcement. We see it at the VA hospitals. We see it with the homeless veterans.

No one has been held accountable for any of this.

Here is more of the investigation
NBC 5 Investigates has learned a Pentagon Inspector General Report this summer also found "systemic issues and challenges with the selection and training of leaders" at WTU's across the country.

For years WTU leaders got only two weeks of training and just a couple of hours on mental health conditions like PTSD.

Jennifer Lawrence, a trainer with the U.S. Army who oversees the training nationwide, said two weeks was enough to get leaders started and that the Army responded to criticisms in the Inspector General's report by hiring more staff to create smaller classes. She said they also added a week of "resilience training" that’s designed to prepare WTU leaders for the stresses of caring for the injured.

“Once that foundation is laid they should continue to educate once they get to their WTU',” said Lawrence.

“You know you have nightmares,” said Sgt. Ngala Benn, a former squad leader at Fort Hood’s WTU, when describing PTSD.

The Army put him in charge of injured soldiers even though he too was suffering from PTSD and taking 20 prescribed medications after serving in Iraq.

“You're trying to re-live the stuff and you get up in the middle of the night and you're sleepwalking with a weapon in your hand or you can't sleep unless you have that weapon next to you,” recalled Benn. Benn said in hindsight he was surprised he was put in charge of a dozen soldiers dealing with similar problems and doesn’t think he should have ever been put in that leadership position given what he was dealing with at the time.


They are all waiting for someone to be held accountable for their suffering. Families of the veterans are waiting to be able to stop blaming themselves. PTSD veterans are waiting for someone to be held accountable for what the leaders failed to learn and do no matter how many billions they were given to help them heal.

Vietnam Veteran Among 60 Lives Saved By Organ Donor

Family Mourns Organ Donor Son, But ‘Hears’ Heartbeat In Vietnam Vet He Saved
Inquisitr
November 26, 2014
Matt Heisler, a 21-year-old organ donor attending the University of North Dakota, probably wasn’t aware that he would be called to service at such a young age, but it was never a decision he took lightly, according to his dad.

“He made the decision that if life ever slipped away from him, he would give life to someone else,” said Jared Heisler.

And since Matt’s untimely death in a house fire in March, he’s been on a life-saving spree. KARE 11 reports that Matt has helped more than 60 people, including a 46-year-old woman, who received one of Matt’s kidneys. The other went to a 56-year-old woman. His liver saved the life of a 61-year-old man.

But perhaps most touching of all because the Heislers could actually hear it; his heart went to a Vietnam veteran diagnosed with the potentially deadly condition of amyloidosis.

Tom Meeks was told that without a heart transplant, he would not be able to survive. He was passed over three times due to his age, but the Mayo Clinic of Rochester, Minnesota, was finally able to conduct the life-saving operation thanks to Matt’s decision to become an organ donor at 16.

The Heislers — his parents and younger sister, Casey — finally got to meet Meeks this month, eight months after they said goodbye to their loved one. Casey broke down when she heard her brother’s heartbeat working inside Meeks’ chest.
read more here

Man claimed to be "Army veteran but was wearing an Air Force uniform"

'Army Veteran' in Air Force Uniform to Get Treatment
Associated Press
Nov 26, 2014

UNIONTOWN, Pa. -- An alleged military impersonator who was wearing the wrong uniform when he tried to enter a southwestern Pennsylvania school to talk about Veterans Day will likely receive probation and mental health treatment.

Fayette County Assistant District Attorney Meghann Mikluscak discussed the plea deal after Jonathan Campbell, 23, of Uniontown, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Monday.

Campbell showed up unannounced on Nov. 17 -- six days after Veterans Day -- at Laurel Highlands Middle School near Uniontown, state police said.

Campbell claimed to be an Army veteran but was wearing an Air Force uniform and said he was there to speak with students about Veterans Day.

School officials denied Campbell entry and called police.
read more here

Car accident claimed life of Fort Bragg Soldier

Soldier from Livingston County Dies Following Crash at Fort Bragg
Time Warner Cable News
By: Rose Eiklor
Updated 11/25/2014

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- A soldier from Livingston County died after a one-vehicle crash Sunday on-base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Spc. Nethaniel Wolfson, 22, was killed, according to the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, which issued a statement Tuesday morning.

Wolfson's father, three brothers and grandfather said Tuesday night they are all trying to focus on the good memories they had with their bubbly, energetic and hard-working loved one.
read more here

Army Ranger-Iraq Veteran "Cancer Patient" Used Medical Journal Picture For Donations

Iraq war veteran 'faked terminal bone cancer and set up online fundraiser where he used X-ray photo taken from medical journal'
Retired Army Ranger Kevin Fish, from California, started GoFundMe page asking for $4,000 in donations towards one final trip home
Posted 'MRI' image allegedly showing his body ravaged by bone cancer
Local news station uncovered that the image came from 2007 medical journal
Fish had no medical records to prove he's been fighting cancer for two years
Daily Mail
By SNEJANA FARBEROV FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 25 November 2014
An Iraq War veteran started an online fundraiser earlier this month hoping to raise $4,000 for what was described as his final trip home before he succumbs of cancer.

But a California news station has uncovered that Kevin Fish, of Joshua Tree, had used a picture of an X-ray showing a patient suffering from bone cancer taken from a medical journal and presented it as his own on his GoFundMe account.

When confronted by a reporter from KESQ Monday, the retired Army Ranger insisted that the image used on the online fundraiser was taken with his cell phone during a medical examination, and that he was told by his doctor that it was his MRI showing cancer ravaging his body.

According to Fish, a native of Houma, Louisiana, he was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer in 2012, but during the Monday interview he was unable to produce any medical files proving that he has been battling the deadly disease for the past two years.

When pressed on that issue, Fish said that he does not keep his medical records at home.

On November 16, the veteran launched a GoFundMe account asking for $4,000 in donations so he could travel to his hometown in Louisiana to visit his family one last time.
read more here

Mother blames PTSD, VA for Marine son's suicide

Curtis Fike: Mother blames PTSD, VA for Marine son's suicide
Jody Merrill speaks out about hidden cost of war
WCPO Cincinnati
Carol Williams

Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide. That's what the government reports. CNN says the suicide rate may be even higher.

Either way, it's a shocking and sad statistic on this Veterans Day, when we honor and celebrate those who have served our country.

A Tri-State mother shares her story, hoping to spare another family from her pain.
HAMILTON, Ohio – Growing up, her son was a "boy's boy," Jody Merrill remembers.

"I used to say, 'We could have a drought all summer, but he could find that mud puddle,' " Jody said.

Jody says her son, Curt Fike, was an All-American kid. He grew up in Hamilton, played football for Badin High School and loved hunting and fishing.

"As sweet as he was good-lookin, I'll tell ya," Jody said, picking out one of her favorite pictures of Curt.

Right after graduation and 9/11, Curt enlisted in the Marines. He went off to boot camp in 2002.

He was idealistic, his mother said.

"Oh, yeah: 'I'm gonna save the world. Go fight the bad guys,' " Jody said.

Jody says Curt was so proud of being a Marine, but his third deployment to Iraq took a lot out of him.

"Fire on the base. Saw two of his staff sergeants burn in front of him. He was actually knocked unconscious."

When Sgt. Curtis Fike came home for good in 2006, he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
It wasn't until he died that Jody learned he also had a traumatic brain injury.
read more here
Linked from Facebook 22TooMany

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Another Mom Grieves for Lost Son

Add this to the stories about what is going on at Fort Hood.
Suicide watch: Returning military members need support, mother warns
KENS 5
Joe Conger
November 24, 2014

SAN ANTONIO -- Doris Dodgen of Universal City says her family bleeds red white and blue. The military was her husband's passion and most of her children, too.

"A lot of pride. A lot of dedication and devotion. And a lot of patriotism. They love our country," said Dodgen.

But Brenton, Doris remembers, had a particular fondness.

"Ever since he was so young, probably age 2, he started wearing camouflage," she said.

Brenton would realize that dream. The future lieutenant was deployed overseas in the Middle East as a signal officer in Operations Enduring Freedom and Spartan Shield.

"He took it very, very seriously," his mother added.

But back stateside, something changed.

"He did come back a little different, yes. And he wouldn't talk much this time around," said Dodgen.

But he did talk on Facebook, posting a brief note one late October evening. And before Doris could reach Killeen, Texas, her son was gone.

"And I can tell you at that point in time in my life, a huge part of me died," Dodgen said.

The Department of Defense noted a self-inflicted gunshot wound was the manner of death.
Within the Army, researchers in 2011 began surveying active duty soldiers' physical and psychological health, both on and off the battlefield. The idea is to identify risk-factors for those who may attempt to harm themselves.

And veterans are being targeted, too. Close to 200,000 veterans this year will make appointments at San Antonio's Audie Murphy VA, for help with mental issues, including suicide.
read more here

No Excuse For Fort Hood Mistreatment of Soldiers With PTSD

The news was stunning to many. NBC 5 and Dallas Morning News teamed up to investigate reports of wounded soldiers being mistreated at Fort Hood, Fort Sam Houston and Fort Bliss.
The soldiers returned home injured, both physically and mentally, and were once again under attack as they were ridiculed, harassed and threatened by commanders assigned to help the recover.
It was one thing to know what was going on and quite another to read how many more were being treated like this.
"Howard said the WTU medical staff tried to help but the unit’s non-medical commanders treated him more like a drunk and a troublemaker who needed to be punished, not a soldier suffering from PTSD who needed compassion."
It was so bad a psychiatrist quit.
Dr. Stephen M. Stahl, a psychiatrist who worked closely with the transition program at Fort Hood, left disillusioned with the Army’s understanding of PTSD. The sense was the disorder wasn’t real or that it was a weakness, he said.

While the general public hears that the military is doing this and that to help PTSD soldiers, the "this" is above and "that" that is a sin. But hey, why have a story like this hit the 24-7 news stations on a national level? Why let the American public know what is actually going on in this country and why they are seeing more and more veterans suffering right in their own communities?

Here are just a few of the stories tied to Fort Hood this year.
Specialist Gage Schellin Age 22 Investigation into Specialist Gage Schellin’s death continues at Fort Hood, where he was stationed. He had joined the Army two years earlier and returned in the spring from an 8-month deployment in Afghanistan.
Spc. Adrian Orlando Maganacasanova age 28 FORT HOOD — Officials released the name of a soldier found unresponsive Friday in his Killeen residence. Spc. Adrian Orlando Maganacasanova, 28, whose home of record is listed as Palmdale, Calif., entered active-duty service in February 2008 as a petroleum supply specialist. He was assigned to 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, at Fort Hood since February 2011.
Omar J. Gonzalez Only five months after a senior neuropsychologist in charge of Fort Hood’s outpatient psychiatry clinic revealed to WND a crisis in psychological testing and treatment at the U.S. Army post, a decorated war veteran who sought therapy at the installation is now in federal custody for jumping the White House fence and bursting through the executive mansion doors. On Sept. 19, Omar J. Gonzalez, a 42-year-old Army veteran who had deployed to Iraq three times and was injured by a homemade bomb, jumped over the north fence, sprinted across the lawn and was stopped only after he entered the White House doors.
Sgt. Triston James Johnson, 23, Houston, entered active duty service in October 2009 as a combat engineer, according to a news release from the post. He had been assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, since November 2012. Johnson deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn from April 2010 to March 2011.
Sgt. Kameron Alexander Womack, 24, of St. Louis, Mo., entered active-duty service in August 2008, as a combat engineer. He was assigned to 8th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, since June 2014.
Sgt. Gene Robert Brandes Jr., a 28-year-old native of Oak Ridge, was found unresponsive in his barracks room at Fort Hood, Texas on May 27. Sgt. Brandes has served in the military for nearly 8 years, entering in August of 2006 as a PATRIOT Launching Station enhanced operator/maintainer, according to a press release issued by the public affairs office. He was assigned to 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade in Fort Hood since April 2014.
Staff Sgt. Heidi Lynn Ruh 32 Fort Hood soldier has died of injuries suffered last week in a noncombat-related incident in Kosovo. Fort Hood officials on Tuesday announced the death of Staff Sgt. Heidi Lynn Ruh of Barrington, Illinois. She died at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo following an incident May 9. No other details were available Tuesday. The matter is under investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. Ruh joined the military in January 2003 as a biomedical equipment specialist and was assigned to the 1st Medical Brigade at Fort Hood. She was attached to Kosovo Force's Multinational Battle Group-East.
Chief Warrant Officer Deric M. Rasmussen, 33, of Oceanside, California, died May 11, in Mazar E Sharif, Afghanistan, as the result of a non-combat incident. He was assigned to the Company C, 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, Fort Hood,
Shooting at Fort Hood Spc. Ivan A. Lopez, 34, the alleged shooter, also wounded 16 other military personnel. Investigators are still piecing together a motive for his deadly spree.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ferguson, 39, threw his body against the entryway of a door and became a human shield during the shooting. Sgt. Timothy Owens, 37, and Staff Sgt. Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez, 38, were also killed in the violent incident.

Now, we can keep settling for the national press to zero in on what they want to focus on, or we can let them know what we expect out of them. If we do nothing, if we say nothing, if we demand nothing, then nothing will change for the men and women we claim to support.

If you are still wondering why suicides are so high go to the links and watch the videos. If you're still wondering why someone doesn't do something, then you failed to pay attention to what they already did. They told us one thing while shafting soldiers and that, that should have caused all of us to scream so loudly no one could ignore us.

Vietnam Veteran Marine Happily Lectured By Son

W.Va. veteran with cancer gets wish to see son lecture at Pitt
Ex-Marine visits math class at Pitt
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Amy McConnell Schaarsmith
November 25, 2014
“Dad, being a Vietnam veteran, didn’t quite get the recognition those guys deserved,” said Mr. Wheeler, 46. “I thought we could shine a little light on what he’d done for us.” 

Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette
Jeffrey Raymond Wheeler sits Monday in the back of a mathematics class taught by his son Jeffrey Paul Wheeler at the University of Pittsburgh.

The speeches, the handshakes, the red-white-and-blue cake -- it was all a surprise, and a lot more public acclamation than retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jeffrey Raymond Wheeler, a Vietnam War veteran with terminal lung cancer, was used to receiving for his service in Da Nang in the mid-1960s.

Sitting up as straight as he could in his wheelchair, Mr. Wheeler, a 68-year-old former coal miner from Wheeling, W.Va., listened quietly to words of praise from a veterans services spokesman for the University of Pittsburgh. He shook hands with his many well-wishers, accepting their thanks and thanked them in return for attending the reception.

Mr. Wheeler’s cancer has left him weakened, making the wheelchair necessary. But when it was time to face the cameras, he stood and to a spot in front of the Marine Corps and United States flags, and spoke from his heart. Why, he was asked, was one of his final wishes to see his elder son, Pitt mathematics lecturer Jeffrey Paul Wheeler, teach a class?

“He’s special in my life, like my other son,” he said, as his wife, Ruth Ann, stood nearby. “God blessed me, blessed both of us, with two wonderful sons.”
read more here

Fort Campbell Soldier Killed Crossing Street 2 Months After Afghanistan Mission

Police ID Connecticut man killed while walking on I-40
The Tennessean
Adam Tamburin
November 24, 2014

James Garvey, center, with his parents
the day he returned to Fort Campbell from Afghanistan in September.

(Photo: Submitted)

Police in Nashville are turning to the community for help answering questions about a young soldier's final moments on Interstate 40.

Garvey was killed early Sunday morning when two vehicles slammed into him while he was walking along the interstate near the Nashville International Airport. It is unclear why he was there; investigators did not find his car nearby.

Answers, if they come, will likely do little to ease the grief of the 24-year-old's shell-shocked family. Garvey's parents traveled from Connecticut to Ft. Campbell in September to welcome the young soldier back from Afghanistan, where he had flown Apache gunships, his father said.

In an email, James Garvey's father, William Garvey, said welcoming his son back to American soil just two months ago ranked among the happiest days of his life.
read more here

Psychiatrist left disillusioned with the Army’s understanding of PTSD

Editorial: Wounded warriors deserve better Dallas News
November 24, 2014

The get-tough attitude doesn’t work when someone with PTSD is groggy from medication or sunk by depression. Telling that soldier to suck it up isn’t just bad medicine, it’s bad discipline.
Vernon Bryant/Staff Photographer
Michael “Mikey” Howard gets medication from wife Robin at their Killeen home. Howard, a former combat medic, has PTSD and early-onset dementia. He sought relief from the Warrior Transition Unit but got “stress and work.”

The Army’s Warrior Transition Unit should be a place where the unseen wounds of soldiers, the psychological injuries, are salved and allowed to begin to heal.

Instead, as an exhaustive two-part report from The Dallas Morning News and KXAS-TV (NBC5) shows, it too often is subject to a military culture that either doesn’t comprehend or doesn’t care enough about the depth of pain that some soldiers experience upon return from war.

That is unacceptable in a program designed in 2007 to help the Army treat soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the very least, the Army should ensure that a doctor’s orders trump higher-ranking officers when it comes to routine matters like showing up for formation or being assigned to night watch when a suffering soldier needs rest. The Army must also do more to meld military culture with good psychological care.

The Army should be, and is, a place of stern discipline. And there is evidence that soldiers recovering from PTSD can benefit from the strict routines of Army life.

But this isn’t about some slackers and complainers who don’t show up for formation. It’s about people like former Army medic Zackary Filip.

Filip displayed extraordinary courage in Afghanistan and then at home when he leaped to help the wounded cut down by Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan.

Yet even someone like Filip, named 2010 Soldier of the Year by Army Times, has been caught between his doctors and his unit.
Dr. Stephen M. Stahl, a psychiatrist who worked closely with the transition program at Fort Hood, left disillusioned with the Army’s understanding of PTSD.

The sense was the disorder wasn’t real or that it was a weakness, he said.

Zackary Filip isn’t weak. And neither are the soldiers like him. The Army must respect that as it nurtures these wounded back to health.
read more here

Soldiers in WTU with PTSD degraded and told to "man up"

Why do they not go for help? Why do they feel as if there is still a reason to be ashamed? The answer is because of the attitude of too many in the military.
"Howard said the WTU medical staff tried to help but the unit’s non-medical commanders treated him more like a drunk and a troublemaker who needed to be punished, not a soldier suffering from PTSD who needed compassion."

This is the result of "resilience training" telling them it was their fault. When brass told soldiers it is to make them mentally tough, that meant they were mentally weak. When brass told them this, it was because of what they actually believed no matter how many years have proven them wrong.
Injured Heroes, Broken Promises: Injured Soldiers Question Training of WTU Leaders
Soldier with PTSD questions being given leadership role inside WTU
NBC 5 and Dallas Morning News
By Scott Friedman, Eva Parks and David Tarrant
November 24, 2014

NBC 5 Investigates found hundreds of injured soldiers complain of harassment and verbal abuse inside the Army’s Warrior Transition Unit’s (WTUs) that were designed to help active duty soldiers heal.

Now, more questions have surfaced about how the Army chooses WTU commanders and how much training they’re receiving to care for injured soldiers.

NBC 5 Investigates teamed up with The Dallas Morning News for a six month investigation to uncover stunning allegations described by soldiers recovering in Texas from the wounds of war.

Spc. Michael Howard returned home to Texas Dec. 24, 2011. It was the moment every family waits for. “Life was perfect that day,” said Robin Howard, Michael’s wife.

But for Robin and Michael Howard, the homecoming wasn’t the happy ending it appeared to be.

Michael Howard served as an Army medic in Southeastern Iraq and the images of combat traveled home with him.

Suffering from post-traumatic stress he tried to erase the memories by self-medicating with alcohol to get rid of the pain.

The Army sent Howard to the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Hood, which is one of more than 20 special units created across the country to treat mentally and physically injured soldiers.

When Howard first arrived at the unit he said he was expecting to find relief but instead found nothing but stress.

Howard said the WTU medical staff tried to help but the unit’s non-medical commanders treated him more like a drunk and a troublemaker who needed to be punished, not a soldier suffering from PTSD who needed compassion.

He said commanders told him to “man-up” and “get over it,” even calling him degrading and offensive names.
read more here
Part One

Monday, November 24, 2014

WTF! Fort Hood WTU Mistreatment of Wounded Soldiers!

PTSD soldiers treated like recruits "had to be whipped into shape" and they wonder why soldiers don't want to seek help?
Injured Heroes, Broken Promises: Hundreds of Soldiers Allege Mistreatment at Army Warrior Transition Units
Wounded soldiers found harassment and verbal abuse from commanders assigned to care for the injured.
By Scott Friedman, Eva Parks and David Tarrant
NBC 5 and Dallas Morning News
November 24, 2014

NBC 5 Investigates has learned hundreds of America's active duty soldiers have complained about harassment, verbal abuse and mistreatment at the Army’s Warrior Transition Units that were designed to help the injured heal.

NBC 5 investigative reporter Scott Friedman teamed up with The Dallas Morning News' Dave Tarrant for a six-month investigation to uncover the stunning allegations described by soldiers recovering in Texas from the wounds of war.

The soldiers returned home injured, both physically and mentally, and were once again under attack as they were ridiculed, harassed and threatened by commanders assigned to help the recover.

Army Sgt. Zack Filip served as a combat medic at a primitive outpost in Afghanistan earning a bronze star for valor as he treated the wounded in harsh conditions, under nearly constant attack.

"I thought I was going to die there. I mean I had actually prayed about it and came to peace with the fact that I was going to die," said Filip.

Filip came home to Fort Hood suffering from post-traumatic stress — haunted by things he had seen. Then came another nightmare; the 2009 Fort Hood shooting that left 13 dead.

Filip jumped into action — helping save the life of a wounded police officer. For his heroics The Army Times named him the 2010 "Army Soldier of the Year."

"I was just kind of in awe of the whole situation”, Filip said.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran Chuck Hagel Leaving Department of Defense

A Shifting Battleground: Why Chuck Hagel Resigned
NBC News
BY PERRY BACON JR.
November 24, 2014

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s resignation at the urging of the president is not a sign of a broader shift in the White House’s national security or defense policies, according to former and current administration officials.

Rather, Hagel’s departure reflects two new dynamics that have emerged since he took the helm at the Pentagon early last year. Hagel’s background as a Vietnam War veteran and former Nebraska senator was seen by administration officials as giving credibility and clout to implement one of President Obama’s major priorities back then: a broad overhaul of America’s military that would reduce defense spending and shrink the U.S. Army to its smallest force levels in decades.

But the rise of ISIS and other military challenges, like halting Russia’s incursions into the Ukraine and stopping the spread of Ebola, have emerged over the last two years, so the restructuring of the Pentagon is no longer at the top of Obama’s to-do list.

He had a crappy relationship with Susan Rice.

And those events abroad have focused attention on Hagel’s management skills. The Defense Secretary, according to administration sources, simply failed to convince leaders at the White House or the Pentagon that he is the right person to lead what is akin to a war against ISIS.

“They chose Hagel for a job that just turned out to be very different than what was expected with the rise of ISIS,” said one former Obama national security aide.
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