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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Afghan deployment was the beginning of the end for captain’s career

Afghan deployment was the beginning of the end for captain’s career
25 minutes ago
FEATURE STORY
by Megan McCloskey
Stars and Stripes
Published: June 27, 2013

Part 2: Red flags add up as Martinez heads downrange

FORT HOOD, Texas — Capt. Anthony Martinez arrived in Afghanistan in June 2010, in command of a 230-person company.

At Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak, a base with a couple of thousand servicemembers in southern Kandahar, Martinez was appointed “mayor” of the facility, meaning he was in charge of keeping the place running. If a septic tank burst, for example, Martinez was the go-to officer to arrange for it to be fixed. In all, he was responsible for $141.6 million worth of equipment.

First Sgt. Malaloa Vaomu, the top enlisted soldier in the company, said he and Martinez were stretched thin, and “the level of stress amplified [Martinez’s] issues.”

Martinez, a West Point graduate who by all accounts was an excellent Army officer, started to struggle when he got home from his second deployment to Iraq. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, had insomnia and eventually deteriorated in mental health to the point of suicidal thoughts.

About a month and half before deploying, Martinez threatened suicide, but the gesture and other red flags were largely ignored by his commanders. Vaomu had asked for Martinez to be replaced as company commander to no avail.

As the summer in Afghanistan progressed, Martinez increasingly had angry outbursts at soldiers, often ordering counselings for them that his company leadership disagreed with as unnecessary. At one point, for three days Martinez “shut himself in his office and only came out for meals and to use the latrine,” Spc. Brandon Petty testified at an eventual board of inquiry for Martinez’s elimination as an Army officer.

The first week of August, Martinez hit a wall. He decided to quit not just command but the whole Army. He went to his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Calvin Downey, to resign his commission.

Martinez said Downey told him he would send his resignation up to legal, but nothing came of it.

Yet another red flag, unnoticed.

Martinez recalled Downey told him to “keep his head up and drive on.”

“I was so overwhelmed,” Martinez said. “On many nights I would go to my [room] and I thought about killing myself. Even loaded my gun.”
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