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Dodd Seeks Call-Back Exemptions For Unfit Soldiers

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by anthony, Dec 20, 2006.

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  1. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd is asking newly appointed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to ensure that soldiers debilitated by post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses are not sent back into combat.

    "If experienced VA doctors diagnose military personnel with incapacitating disabilities, such as severe PTSD, it would seem counter to our national security interests for the military services to somehow disregard these evaluations for less thorough assessments performed by military officials," Dodd wrote in a letter Tuesday to Gates. "It seems unacceptable and perhaps even reckless to ask our servicemen and women to entrust their lives to soldiers deemed mentally unfit by medical professionals."

    Dodd, D-Conn., said he was troubled by recent reports that some Connecticut veterans who had left active duty and had been deemed disabled with PTSD were being recalled for repeat deployments to Iraq. The Courant featured several of those soldiers in a recent story.

    One of the soldiers, Damian Fernandez, 24, of Waterbury, was diagnosed with severe PTSD and rated 70 percent disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs after returning from Iraq in 2005. When he received a letter from the Army last month ordering him to report for duty Jan. 14, he became suicidal and was admitted to a lockdown unit at the Northampton VA Medical Center in Massachusetts, where he remains. The Army is now reviewing his medical records.

    Dodd asked Gates to exempt Fernandez from being recalled.

    Fernandez's mother, Mary Jane Fernandez, had appealed to a number of state elected officials in recent weeks to intervene on her son's behalf. She has said she is stunned that the Army would want to redeploy her son, who suffers from paranoia and depression and has threatened to hurt himself and others.

    Attorney General Richard Blumenthal also has intervened on behalf of Fernandez. In a letter to the Army's human resources command and Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey, Blumenthal asked that Fernandez' redeployment be stopped "in the interest of his safety - and the wellbeing of every soldier serving with him."

    "Redeploying soldiers who suffer from war-induced stress disorder - particularly a soldier currently under suicide watch - endangers and undermines military capability and morale," Blumenthal wrote.

    Fernandez is one of about 8,200 inactive soldiers who have been ordered back involuntarily, under a policy that allows the military to recall troops who have been discharged but have time remaining on their contracts. While soldiers may seek exemptions from the call-ups, an Army spokesman told The Courant that mental and physical disabilities, including PTSD, are not an "automatic exemption" from serving.

    The spokesman, Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, said the Army does not have a system for checking veterans' disabilities before sending out the call-up orders, and the onus is on the soldiers to provide documentation that their medical conditions preclude deployment. To date, about 24 percent of the 10,917 former soldiers who have received mobilization orders have been granted exemptions, Army figures show.

    Dodd asked Gates to undertake a "thorough review" of the military's compliance with its own policies precluding the redeployment of service members diagnosed with "debilitating" illnesses. The military recently issued new guidelines intended to limit deployments of troops with serious mental health problems, but it is not yet clear how those guidelines are being applied.

    U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, had intervened in another case of a Connecticut soldier with PTSD who is being recalled. Larson wrote a letter in November on behalf of Paul Sinsigalli of Andover, who has been recalled despite PTSD, for which he has been rated 10 percent disabled, and a back problem.

    The Army pushed back Sinsigalli's call-up date by two months, to Jan. 7, but did not grant him an exemption.

    Source: Hartford Courant
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  3. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    And this is a classic example of what people that look in with no experience see... They believe other soldiers are at risk by sending those with PTSD back into combat. All they read is "mentally ill", with no idea or scope that a soldier with PTSD is the ultimate soldier to have on the battlefield. No fear, do the job, their life not an issue... the ultimate fighting machine. Why the hell wouldn't the military want this? The only problem with a soldier having PTSD, is when they return from the operational zone, in that they will not conform to barracks discipline, but they will conform to operational discipline because of the nature itself.
  4. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    Wow... I wonder if this is happening in Canada too. Probably. Canada sucks for how they treat soldiers with PTSD. And yeah I was thinking the same thing about PTSD soldiers in combat... where they'd really have trouble is at home, like in the case of my dad obviously. And also my cousin's friend:

  5. wildcritter44

    wildcritter44 Active Member

    Our soldiers are but #'s to the government. The gov does not care.
    As long as the big dudes collect their pay checks, that's all that is cared about.
    Those w/PTSD are if considered at all, are just another casulty of war. Written off as a loss. No big deal when they are considered a number.
    ranger isn't even recognized as having "official" PTSD and being paid for his disability. A civilian Dr gave him the label. Hopefully we can get PTSD listed as one of his many disabilities.

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