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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hurt soldiers punished for injuries

Authorities hold sick, disabled troops to same standards as the able-bodiedFORT BRAGG, North Carolina - Staff Sgt. Jason Jonas says when he goes to bed at night, he is terrified his medication will cause him to oversleep and miss morning roll call again. His commanders are fully aware the paratrooper wounded in Afghanistan has been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, because he is one of about 10,000 soldiers assigned to the Army’s Warrior Transition units, created for troops recovering from injuries.

Instead of gingerly nursing them back to health, however, commanders at Fort Bragg’s transition unit readily acknowledge holding them to the same standards as able-bodied soldiers in combat units, often assigning chores as punishment for minor infractions. In fact, the unit has a discipline rate three times as high as Fort Bragg’s main tenant, the 82nd Airborne Division, and transition units at two other bases punish their soldiers even more frequently than the one at Fort Bragg, according to an Associated Press review of records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

“In my 10 years of service I have often seen soldiers mistreated, abused or left hanging, but never have I seen an entire unit collectively mentally and physically break down its members,” said Jonas, a 28-year-old from Tempe, Arizona. . . . [Full Story Here: Hurt soldiers ‘punished for injuries’]
Bill Smith, ARRA Editor: As a retired 22 year veteran, this article even with its rationalizations indicates that there appears to be an abuse of authority as well as abuse of their assigned troops. Health care providers and military commanders may be frustrated with caring for the injured - some who may be emotionally damaged. But that is no basis for mistreating the troops or creating situations where they will forced fail because of medical conditions and then be subject to punishment for the failure. In the military, punishment via disciplinary actions has often been a prelude to the means to discharge a person who happens to be too healthy for a medically discharge but too ill or injured to return to full operational duty status. Thus, if a military commander can label a person as a malingerer or malcontent then they can get rid of the solder verses being responsible for their treatment on active duty. Heck, this could be a deliberate policy or program by those higher in the chain-of-command.

I remember the unwritten "ease out" program in the Air Force. It was used when the Air Force wanted to reduce the number of senior officers after the Vietnam War, to force them to opt to retire. The Air Force would deliberately assign five or six Colonels to the same projected command positions in places like Minot, North Dakota where 1) its gets very cold much of the year, and 2) no one is getting promoted for putting up with the assignment. They knew most of the officers would opt to retire rather than continue to serve in places like Minot. Now, consider the potential of policies or actions being considered by the Army to addresses its military manpower requirements, e.g., getting back to full combat strength while controlling costs. Something in the treatment of these solders doesn't pass the smell test.

I often wondered if those assigned to Command medical or transition units are those who are not considered able to command as leaders in the field. Are these commanders and even their noncoms - sort of like the character, Dr. Frank Burns, on the TV series: MASH? On MASH, we saw portrayed the incompetence of Burns who wanted to Command when he could not even control himself. As we saw with Frank Burns, there is absolutely NO excuse for mistreatment of our injured troops be it physical or psychological. [H/T to Texas Fred for calling this article to my attention; I am sure he and some of the military blogs will have a few choice words about this situation.]

Tags: harassment, injured troops, medical care, military, military commanders, punishment, TexasFred To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 9:30 PM - Post Link


Anonymous Kate said...

Even reading this a second time, I still am at a loss for words. Our most valuable treasures, our young men and women serving to protect us, being abused in such a manner.... it's just beyond comprehension.

Anonymous Faultline USA said...

This is an outrage!

[Cross-posted from TexasFred]

Anonymous Eric said...

Completely unacceptable, but *not* unbelievable... Allow me to explain, . . .

After Desert Storm, and I was an infantryman, part of Task Force "Ripper" ( Marines ) I came home and developed some illnesses, OR what is commonly referred to as Gulf War Syndrome, throw in PTSD as well. It's *not* been easy.

I started to show signs while still on active duty and started to be seen at the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton. The docs there did not treat me so good, almost making a mockery of the fact I was 'sick'. They done it through prescribing 'meds' with an attitude of "Take these and go away" is the way it felt.

Then they write these medical reports and if they aren't an accurate description or diagnosis it's pretty hard to explain to your command, they in return go by what they doctors have said treating you as if there's nothing wrong because the doc's made your illness look like you are 'exaggerating' it.

That was during the 'onset' of what would ultimately be a VERY long haul for myself, divorced my children's mother, went into complete isolation, and deep depression.

After being 'honorably' discharged I started receiving VA care, that same attitude was carried over into the VA system, more meds, some counseling, so on and so forth but they didn't really care, the next guy comes in at 1pm, so, it's all about being a number as opposed to a personalized veteran and staying on schedule with appointments.

Many will say they have no problems with the VA, for example, but are they being treated for service connection injuries/ailments or simply non service connected 'medical' routine stuff?

Go there for PTSD, GWS, Agent Orange and see how you're treated then. At times you feel like you're just run in circles in hopes that you'll either exhaust yourself and give up in seeking benefits, or if you are receiving, as I am, 100%, that'll you'll die off so they can re-coup the pay. THAT's how it feels sometimes.

This story is *not* surprising to me in the least. I was given Quetiapine, for that same kind of sleep disorder, yep it'll put you too sleep, it's pretty strong, and eventually will 'ruin' you to the point you stay tired. I wonder if that's what many has been prescribed?

Who knows, but after I got off it my body had suffered the consequences of it, now chronic fatigue is a way of life. My body cannot maintain B12, thus rely on shots and tablets. Still, I stay tired. It's ruined relationships, but I keep on truckin', being a Marine I'm damn proud as I know these Soldiers are but it is challenging to say the least. To be treated like that, the VERY ones who should be treating you like you should be treated, and that's as a sick Soldier or Marine.

They are not looking for sympathy! ONLY alittle compassion and understanding. They DESERVE it and anything less is completely unacceptable. My heart goes out to them.

Semper Fi.

[Cross-posted from TexasFred]

Anonymous Pat Houseworth said...

Gotta remember...the Top Brass in the Military is no better than the political hacks in Washington basically have a bunch of Desk Jockeys who think they are God to the Troops.

Guess that's why I was in trouble my entire 4 years in the Air Force...never did appreciate having assclowns that I knew I was smarter than, giving me orders....

Support the Troops...but not the Military BureauRats.

[Cross-posted from TexasFred]

Anonymous Bloviating Zeppelin said...

1. McConnell, Minihan and Hayden served as NSA directors under Clinton;
2. The military was always tough; that's why it's the military. And it's the tradition of the military to reject much consideration. People were appalled the time that George Smith Patton slapped the soldier on the cot, who had "battle shock." Many others, however, believed he did the proper thing.
3. My tendency is to believe the military stands in tradition rather than consideration. And they're unwilling to change on many levels. Hence, this is no real surprise to me.
4. Pat has also nailed it. Desk jockeys are essentially the same in any organization.
5. The only way this will change is to have it exposed to the light of day . . .


[Cross-posted from TexasFred]

Anonymous Right Truth said...

This is terrible. Our soldiers deserve the best treatment we have available medically, personally, morally, ethically.

[Cross-posted from TexasFred]

Anonymous Carl Andrews said...

Anybody pulling this crap on guys who have had boots on the ground need a boot up their ass!
And I'm no great fan of the VA in general.
My father, a marine vet, visited the local VA hospital numerous times, and was told that there really wasn't anything they could do for him.
Finally he was admitted, spent almost 3 months there until they said they were sending him home, which they did.
He died the next day.
I'm gonna wrap this up before I get myself too pissed off!

[Cross-posted from TexasFred]

Anonymous Patrick Sperry said...

This is simply unacceptable. Use the GoA or NRA websites to contact your representatives, at both State and Federal levels.

Blog about it, and write letters to the Editors of your papers. Do whatever you can! I am firing off a letter to my Post Commander at the legion as soon as I am finished posting here.

David Hackworth was a friend of mine. He died from exposure to Agent Blue. The creeps still refuse to recognize Agents Orange and Blue until it is too late for any sort of effective treatment. Now, our sons are being exposed to spent uranium, and all sorts of things that only Holy Warriors of Islam deserve to be hit with.
I REFUSE to allow another generation of American's and allied troops to be just . . . ignored!

[Cross-posted from TexasFred]

Blogger CyberPastor said...

No words can express how this makes me feel - sad, angry, appalled, all come to mind, but I will be praying that these brave heroes are treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve!

Anonymous Buffoon said...

Allow me to play the devils advocate. We need to consider the original source this comes from, MSNBC and the AP. I would think someone here would have thought of that. And speaking as a vet myself, I know you are all aware that there are a such thing as malingerers. Fort Bragg is the toughest post in the states and not one that takes sick call rangers lightly.

Not saying this is the case here, but c'mon, lets not over react to a report form a leftist source.

Blogger Jenn Sierra said...

This is horrible! What can we do?


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