Normally, I would post some sort of news item for discussion or something of the sort, but recently, I’ve been made aware of certain troubling events back home which I thought might interest the SEB Community. It concerns PTSD and the military’s solution to the disorder.
Prior to his arrival in Iraq, my brother Justin was an exemplary Marine. He was never late for drill, nor did he receive any form of disciplinary measures. In point of fact, he was even commended for preventing the rape of a fellow Marine while he was on watch during his MOS School. In the summer of 2004, his unit was activated and he was promptly shipped to California prior to his departure for Fallujah. Shortly after his arrival there, the Marines stormed the city in what was to become one of the single largest offensives of the war. While there, he was both witness to and a participant in a great many terrible things. To this day he will not speak of what he did while there. Any information myself or my family has received of his actions came from members of his unit who credited him with 25 confirmed enemy kills and a commendation for his work while in country from his Unit Commander. When he returned to Texas, however, he had changed. He became apprehensive and, at times, violent and unpredictable. He fast became an alcoholic and couldn’t hold down a job. To add insult to injury, he was so severely traumatized by his experiences in Iraq that he now hides from members of his unit and once curled into the fetal position and began to cry when he heard the sound of a helicopter over the house. Unfortunately, he is not the only veteran who suffers from this disorder. A number of Marines from his unit have been discharged from the service with an unfavorable discharge code because of their behavior. Justin is no exception. This February, he will be subjected to non-judicial punishment where his Unit Commander is expected to demote him to private and recommend that he be given a discharge under other than honorable conditions. Granted, his behavior would normally warrant such a punishment as he is guilty of what he has been accused. He has been absent from scheduled drill 20 consectutive times. However, his previous service and the military’s refusal to recognize his condition as a legitimate form of mental illness is sickening. Under current directives, he will be stripped of any benefits gained through military service, including healthcare through the VA. Were this a case of a single Marine under these circumstances, it would be terrible. Given that almost twenty Marines from Justin’s unit have suffered the same fate is unforgiveable. As his brother, I was made fully aware of his intentions prior to joining the Marine Corps. He had a desire to join so that he could receive enough training and pay to start his own business as a diesel engine mechanic. He had no desire to deploy and yet he went without question and now he is permanently scarred by his experiences. Add to that the military’s answer for “dealing” with troubled veterans and we’ve a situation that must be dealt with. I am in the process of transferring back to Texas and hopefully I will have an opportunity to testify on his behalf, but I can only hope that my transfer comes in time.
What are your thoughts?