MEDS? Dallas Police Shooting: Ron Paul Asking The Right Questions

dallas police shooting3

 

Once again a vet is behind violence…why so much of it among vets?…why so many suicides among vets? (Last count it was 22 per day committing suicide with those deaths going over the number killed in combat for the past seven years now.) It can all be traced right back to the mass drugging of our military and continued drugging of the vets by the VA once they return home. For years we have had reports of vets being given up to 20 drugs a day – most of them mind altering. And this has been going on for at least two and a half decades. (You can go to our database of thousands of cases like today’s shooting at www.SSRIstories.NET to find more of these mass shootings by vets all on these deadly drugs known to produce violence and suicide.)

At least one politician, Ron Paul, knows enough to ask the right questions. Had Ron Paul been elected in 2008 these drugs may have been off the market before this shooting today and before oh so many others thereby saving many lives. What a shame!

ron-paul

Ron Paul on Fox News asking the right questions in Fox News clip below:

http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/5028331499001/ron-paul-on-the-dallas-shooting-/?#sp=show-clips

Deadly Drugs –www.SSRIstories.NET

SSRIstories.NET is a database of the cases our group at the International Coalition for Drug Awareness has gathered over the past 2 1/2 decades, including nearly every school shooter and mass shooter in the country. The question remains in all of these cases as to the level of consciousness of the perpetrator – something that is never tested in the court cases and should be. (Tragically in this case that is no longer an option.) Testing is still back in the dark ages with blood levels of drugs rather than brain waves which will detect the level of consciousness and therefore culpability. These are drugs that accumulate in brain tissue at an alarming rate. Testing the blood tells us nothing about the level of toxicity.

EXCESS SEROTONIN PRODUCES EXTREME VIOLENCE

What so many were not aware of is that an increase in serotonin by an accompanying decrease in one’s ability to metabolize serotonin was long known to produce both impulsive murder and suicide. See this study out of the Southern California:

http://www.drugawareness.org/wp-content/uploads/mice.jpg

1996 – Mutant Mice May Hold Key To Human Violence – An Excess Of Serotonin.

08/11/1996 – Mutant Mice May Hold Key To Human Violence – An Excess Of Serotonin, A Chemical That Helps Regulate Mood And Mental Health, Causes Mayhem


 

ANTIDEPRESSANTS PRODUCE SLEEP DISORDER KNOWN TO

INCLUDE BOTH MURDER AND SUICIDE

What the world remains unaware of is the fact is that 86% of those who are diagnosed with the most deadly sleep disorder known as REM Sleep Disorder (RBD) are currently taking antidepressants. REM Sleep Disorder is a condition in which there is no paralysis during sleep thus allowing the patient to act out the dreams or nightmares they are having. Tragically 80% of those going into this sleep disorder hurt themselves or others including both murder and suicide as a result.

This is possibly the most deadly of all reactions one can have to antidepressants. Even more frightening though is to learn that before the introduction of the SSRI antidepressants RBD was known mainly as a drug withdrawal effect. Thus the chances of going into this dangerous reaction should be expected to increase as one goes into withdrawal. This is why it is so important to avoid as much of the withdrawal effects as possible by tapering off the antidepressant very, very slowly. Feel free to join us on Facebook to learn more about this disorder on our Antidepressant-induced REM Sleep Disorder group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/106704639660883/

Ann Blake Tracy, Executive Director,

International Coalition for Drug Awareness

DrugAwareness.org & SSRIstories.NET

Author: ”Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare – The Complete Truth of the Full Impact of Antidepressants Upon Us & Our World” & Withdrawal CD “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!”

WITHDRAWAL WARNING: In sharing this information about adverse reactions to antidepressants I always recommend that you also give reference to my CD on safe withdrawal, Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!, so that we do not have more people dropping off these drugs too quickly – a move which I have warned from the beginning can be even more dangerous than staying on the drugs!

WITHDRAWAL HELP: You can find the hour and a half long CD on safe and effective withdrawal helps here:http://store.drugawareness.org/ And if you need additional consultations with Ann Blake-Tracy, you can book one atwww.drugawareness.org or sign up for one of the memberships in the International Coalition for Drug Awareness which includes free consultations as one of the benefits of that particular membership plan. For only a $30 membership for one month you can even get 30 days of access to the withdrawal CD with tips on rebuilding after the meds, all six of my DVDs, hundreds of radio interviews, lectures, TV interviews I have done over the years PLUS access to my book on antidepressants (500 plus pages) with more information than you will find anywhere else (that is only $5 more than the book alone would cost) atwww.drugawareness.org. (Definitely the best option to save outrageous postage charges for those out of the country!)

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Drug the Victims! – The PTSD Crisis That’s Being Ignored: Americans Wounded in Their Own Neighborhoods

PTSD in city

The PTSD Crisis That’s Being Ignored:

Americans Wounded in Their Own Neighborhoods

Drug the Victims! Pharma has come up with yet another market created by their own meds! – The PTSD Crisis That’s Being Ignored: Americans Wounded in Their Own Neighborhoods

The following comment is what I responded to: Vonrock: “OK Barack here’s your chance at stemming gun violence. Help real people.”

And my response pretty much covers where they are headed with this drugging of the victims who could easily be victims of those on these same medications as they are behind the majority of shootings: “You do not stem gun violence by treating PTSD because PTSD is NOT what makes these people violent. What makes them violent are the drugs they prescribe for PTSD that already have listed (admitted – is that a confession?!) side effects of both “homicidal and suicidal ideation” and those drugs are antidepressants. Now keep in mind that “ideation” means obsessive and compulsive thoughts and actions of both homicide and suicide.

“It has LONG been known that increasing levels of serotonin produces violence out of the blue. And impairing the metabolism of serotonin (called serotonin reuptake inhibition) in order to increase the levels of serotonin can produce impulsive murder and suicide. Yes I can give you those references because I have been testifying as an expert in criminal cases involving antidepressants since 1992. The whole world needs to hear what comes out in courtrooms about these drugs! It is a public safety issue. But drug companies have made so much money of these drugs that they have bought off everyone when it comes to these meds.

“Just in the 90’s the makers of Prozac, Eli Lilly, alone paid out at least a Billion dollars to pay off lawsuits and place gag orders on those settling so that they could continue to peddle their wares.

“Ever wonder how much Pharma stock Obama owns? What about judges? What about lawmakers? What about the doctors prescribing the drugs? And who would the media get to advertise without these drugs?

“(Would be more than happy to share supporting references for any and all of those statement if anyone wants them.)”

vonrock: “Thank you! Knowledge is most important here.”

Antidepressants CAUSE PTSD and should never be given as a treatment for that because they make the condition far worse. PTSD is an anxiety disorder and Dr. Murray Essler from Australia found in a study in 2000 that those suffering various anxiety disorders have serotonin levels EIGHT times higher than normal. He immediately began asking why on earth doctors are then giving antidepressants, which increase serotonin even further, as a treatment for anxiety disorders like PTSD. There are many other ways to treat PTSD and antidepressants are not it!

Original article: http://www.propublica.org/article/the-ptsd-crisis-thats-being-ignored-americans-wounded-in-their-own-neighbor?utm_source=et&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailynewsletter

WITHDRAWAL HELP: You can find the hour and a half long CD on safe and effective withdrawal helps here: http://store.drugawareness.org/  And if you need additional consultations with Ann Blake-Tracy, you can book one at www.drugawareness.org or sign up for one of the memberships for the International Coalition for Drug Awareness which includes free consultations as one of the benefits of that particular membership plan.

WITHDRAWAL WARNING: In sharing this information about adverse reactions to antidepressants I always recommend that you also give reference to my CD on safe withdrawal, Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!, so that we do not have more people dropping off these drugs too quickly – a move which I have warned from the beginning can be even more dangerous than staying on the drugs!

The FDA also now warns that any abrupt change in dose of an antidepressant can produce suicide, hostility or psychosis. These reactions can either come on very rapidly or even be delayed for months depending upon the adverse effects upon sleep patterns when the withdrawal is rapid!

Ann Blake Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition for Drug Awareness
www.drugawareness.org & http://ssristories.drugawareness.org
Author: ”Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare – The Complete Truth of the Full Impact of Antidepressants Upon Us & Our World” & Withdrawal CD “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!”

 

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TWO SOLDIERS PRESCRIBED 54 DRUGS: MILITARY MENTAL HEALTH “TREATMENT” BECOMES FRANKENPHARMACY

andrew-white[1]

Marine Corporal Andrew White was prescribed

19 mind altering drugs in less than one year in the military

which led to his sudden death while home asleep in his bed.

The second article in a four part series by Kelly Patricia O’Meara addressing the over drugging of our military just came out entitled “Two Soldiers Prescribed 54 Drugs: Military Mental Health “Treatment” Becomes Frankenpharmacy” See the article link below:

Although this is a horrible situation in America with suicides outnumbering combat deaths due to the widespread use of these deadly drugs in our military, this is going on in many countries. Even Osama Bin Laden’s son has been diagnosed schizophrenic after his doctors said it was caused by his use of antidepressants. The LA Times reporter who did an amazing report about the Taliban & these medications quotes in his article in the Seattle Times the Taliban psychiatrist who said taking these antidepressant drugs is like “swallowing a little piece of God” – the question would be whose God is that??? Yes it has become the new sacrament for far too many religions! He went on to talk about a leader in his army who continually put himself on the frontline of each battle because he became so suicidal. So this is clearly a worldwide problem.

Andrew’s father, Stan White, is doing much to gather all of the American families together who have lost sons to these drugs whether it be a sudden death as was Andrew’s or a suicide or a murder/suicide. Please refer anyone with a military background to Stan so that he can document these cases. The tragic suicide we posted a few days ago of Tony Orban would be yet another. Tony was a decorated soldier who served well & had only been with the police department for five years before he had his reaction to Zoloft after being prescribed the drug for PTSD from his service in the military. These cases are everywhere! Notice how often it is a vet involved in one of these antidepressant-induced crimes.

As you read through Kelly’s article keep in mind the death of Anna Nicole Smith’s young son Daniel as he slept in a chair at a Florida hospital while visiting his mother & new baby sister. Daniel was only 20, young & healthy, but on a combination of antidepressants & other serotonergic medications. I was interviewed with & worked with the famous forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht, on Daniel’s case. In discussing the case it seemed quite clear to us that this was not just sudden cardiac failure, but very possibly multiple organ failure, the result of Serotonin Syndrome, produced by the combination of serotonergic medications he was taking. Such seems to be the case with these young men as well. Generally only two serotonergic medications given together can produce Serotonin Syndrome while these young men were given many serotonergic medications in combination.

To go to Kelly’s article click here: www.cchrint.org/2012/10/30/military-mental-health-treatment-becomes-frankenpharmacy/

One of my favorite parts of the article is Kelly’s assessment of the cozy ties & mentality in the military doing the “treating” of these young men:

“Matthew J. Friedman, the executive director of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, and Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at Dartmouth Medical School, was on the payroll of AstraZeneca, the maker of Seroquel. And, while a consultant to AstraZeneca, Friedman was one of four authors of the American Psychiatric Association’s 2009 Practice Guide for the Treatment of Patients with Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD.[1] Additionally, as a proponent of SSRI medications to treat PTSD, Friedman also sat on the PTSD Scientific Advisory Boards for GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer—the makers of the antidepressants Paxil and Zoloft.[2]

“Despite Dr. Friedman’s belief that cocktails of mind-altering drugs will “help” those suffering from combat related symptoms, White’s symptoms not only persisted but worsened, and VA, military and civilian psychiatrists returned to their laboratories, ever convinced the next multi-drug elixir would elicit remarkable results.”

About the Author: Ann Blake Tracy is the author of PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA?, and the director of the International Coalition For Drug Awareness [www.drugawareness.org]. She has testified before the FDA and has testified as an expert in legal cases involving serotonergic medications since 1992.

BOOK: Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare! Anything you ever wanted to know about antidepressants is there along with everything drug companies hope you never find out about these drugs. SAFE WITHDRAWAL CD “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!” on how to safely withdraw from antidepressants & most psychiatric medications is saving lives! Both available at www.drugawareness.org

BOOK TESTIMONIALS:

“Very bold & informative”

“Priceless information that is giving me back to me”

“The absolute best reference for antidepressant drugs”

“Well documented & scientifically researched”

““I was stunned at the amount of research Ann Tracy has done on this subject. Few researchers go to as much trouble aggressively gathering information on the adverse reactions of Prozac, Zoloft and other SSRIs.”

WITHDRAWAL HELP CD TESTIMONIALS:

“Ann, I just wanted to let you know from the bottom of my heart how grateful I am God placed you in my life. I am now down to less than 2 mg on my Cymbalta and I have never felt better. I am finally getting my life back. I can feel again and colors have never been brighter. Thanks for all that you do!!” … Amber Weber

“Used your method of weaning off of SSRI’s and applied it to Ambien. Took 6 months but had been on 15 mg for years so what was another 6 months. I have been sleeping without it for 2 weeks and it is the first time I have been able to sleep drug free for 15 years. What a relief to be able to lay down and sleep when I need or want to. Ambien may be necessary for people at times but doctors giving a months worth of it at a time with unlimited refills is a prescription for disaster. It is so damn easy to become dependent on. Thanks for your council Ann.”… Mark Hill

“I’m so thankful for AnnTracy and all her work. Also for taking the time out to talk to me and educate everyone! She has been a blessing to me during this awful time of antidepressant hell!” … Antoinette Beck

 

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AUSTIN STATESMAN – UNCOUNTED CASUALTIES: IRAQ VETS: HOME, BUT NOT SAFE

Scores of recent Texas war veterans have died of overdoses, suicide and vehicle crashes, investigation finds

1 jwj Dead Veterans day1 drugs[1]

Daniel Pilgrim, 12 , and his grandparents Randy and Judy Pilgrim visit the grave of Daniel’s father, Lance.

10 jwj Dead Veterans day1 drugs[1]

Kimberly Mitchell weeps at the grave of her husband, Chad Mitchell, who died of an accidental prescription drug overdose.

The Austin Statesman ran an incredibly well done & way overdue article today on what is happening to our veterans!!! True investigative reporting – something I thought had died an untimely death in this country! Thank you Austin Stateman!

For the past 20 years I have directed the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, www.drugawareness.org, to track these cases because so many are directly related to the massive use of antidepressants by our military. We have many cases documented in a database put together by our Texas Director which you can find at www.SSRIstories.com

Suicide, homicide, alcoholism & REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

These drugs are being given to a population generally within the age group (under 25) who the FDA has warned has double the chance of suicide if they take an antidepressant. They are dying in their sleep due to interactions between antidepressants & pain killers, or becoming alcoholic as antidepressants produce overwhelming cravings for alcohol. We have been seeing far too many veterans come home & commit murder/suicide on these drugs, or commit mass murders. Many remain unaware that antidepressants have not just suicidal ideation as an increased side effect, but also homicidal ideation. Ideation is constant ruminating thoughts or almost a compulsion … so these are increased compulsions or thoughts that will not be quieted about either killing themselves or others or both. They are even more dangerous for veterans because of the fact that 86% of those diagnosed with REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, where you act out nightmares in a sleepwalk state – some driving many miles to kill others, are those taking antidepressants. Anyone knows that someone recently returning from war is going to have nightmares worse than most. The problems due to meds are absolutely staggering.

Eric Harris unqualified for military service due to antidepressant use

All of this is absolutely insane when you see the changes in policy from just over a decade ago when anyone on one of these drugs would be turned away from the military because they did not want someone on a mind altering drug (especially those that can produce suicide, homicide & paranoia) carrying a gun in a war situation. The use of an antidepressant is why Eric Harris, one of the Columbine shooters, was turned down by the military in 1999. Seeing the extreme dangers can be made obvious in the case of Sgt. John Michael Russel of Sherman while having a toxic reaction to his antidepressant opened fire at a mental health clinic in Iraq killing 5 fellow soldiers. And as more comes out in similar cases we will see these drugs were involved in them as well.

Stan White, a father with a mission

Stan White is a father who has been fighting to get the truth out about what these drugs are doing to our troops. He lost one son in combat & the other to a medication interaction after he returned home. I would hope that families contact him & join together to put an end to this nightmare. You are welcome to find him as one of my friends on Facebook if you cannot find him otherwise.

www.statesman.com/news/news/local-military/texas-war-veteran-deaths-studied/nSPJs/

To read a more extensive report on this problem following are the follow-up stories in the Austin Statesman:

Loved ones cope with veterans’ suicides

Uncounted Casualties: Part II

_______________________________________

Prescription drug abuse, overdoses haunt veterans seeking relief from physical, mental pain

_____________________________________

Which veterans are at highest risk for suicide?

_______________________________________

Suicide among veterans receiving less attention than active-duty deaths

Many family members noticed dramatic changes in their loved ones after they returned from the war and before committing suicide.

_________________________________________

After returning home, many veterans get into motor vehicle accidents

Some say risky driving is related to their time spent overseas.

______________________________________________

About the Author: Ann Blake-Tracy is the author of PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA?, and the director of the International Coalition For Drug Awareness [www.drugawareness.org]. She has testified before the FDA and testifies as an expert in legal cases involving serotonergic medications.

Ann Blake Tracy, Executive Director,

International Coalition for Drug Awareness
www.drugawareness.org & www.SSRIstories.com
Author: “Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare – The Complete Truth of the Full Impact of Antidepressants Upon Us & Our World” & Safe Withdrawal CD “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!”

BOOK: Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare! Anything you ever wanted to know about antidepressants is there along with everything drug companies hope you never find out about these drugs. SAFE WITHDRAWAL CD “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!” on how to safely withdraw from antidepressants & most psychiatric medications is saving lives! Available at www.drugawareness.org

BOOK TESTIMONIALS:

“VERY BOLD AND INFORMATIVE”

“PRICELESS INFORMATION THAT IS GIVING ME BACK TO ME”

“THE ABSOLUTE BEST REFERENCE FOR ANTIDEPRESSANT DRUGS”

“WELL DOCUMENTED & SCIENTIFICALLY RESEARCHED”

“I was stunned at the amount of research Ann Blake-Tracy has done on this subject. Few researchers go to as much trouble aggressively gathering information on the adverse reactions of Prozac, Zoloft and other SSRIs.”

WITHDRAWAL HELP CD TESTIMONIALS:

“Ann, I just wanted to let you know from the bottom of my heart how grateful I am God placed you in my life. I am now down to less than 2 mg on my Cymbalta and I have never felt better. I am finally getting my life back. I can feel again and colors have never been brighter. Thanks for all that you do!!” … Amber Weber

“Used your method of weaning off of SSRI’s and applied it to Ambien. Took 6 months but had been on 15 mg for years so what was another 6 months. I have been sleeping without it for 2 weeks and it is the first time I have been able to sleep drug free for 15 years. What a relief to be able to lay down and sleep when I need or want to. Ambien may be necessary for people at times but doctors giving a months worth of it at a time with unlimited refills is a prescription for disaster. It is so damn easy to become dependent on. Thanks for your council Ann.”… Mark Hill

“I’m so thankful for Ann Blake-Tracy and all her work. Also for taking the time out to talk to me and educate everyone! She has been a blessing to me during this awful time of antidepressant hell!” … Antoinette Beck

 

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MEDS for PTSD: Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Etc. Soldiers Overmedicated

Paragraphs 8 through 10 read:  “”The troops are
overmedicated
. We see it all the time. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been more
serious, especially since the
November 5
shooting
,” she said.”

“Thomas said

counselors sometimes have to drive GI’s to their appointments and to the base
because they are so heavily medicated that they cannot drive themselves.

Many have chronic migraines that keep them from driving, she said.”

” ‘On
average, most of the soldiers I have talked to take 20 to 25 medications
per day
and some look as though they are in the advanced stages of
Parkinson’s disease; some actually stumble from their meds
,’ Under the
Hood
counselor Matti Litaker said.”

http://www.truthout.org/over-meds-and-under-hood56822

Over the Meds and
Under the Hood

Thursday 11 February 2010

by: Candice Bernd, t r u t h o u t
|
Op-Ed

Army psychiatrist Maj.
Nidal Malik Hasan’s
alleged brutal shooting of 13 GI’s stationed at the
largest US military base, located just outside Killeen, Texas, drew sympathy
from the national, state and military political establishments and reinforced a
prejudice in the hearts and minds of many Americans.

The sure-fire
coverage from the corporate media easily painted a picture of the story that
would reinforce the War on Terror while leaving unanswered the deeper and more
challenging questions about the state of US military establishments and the
mental and emotional state of our young soldiers serving in those institutions.
The Fort Hood shooting commanded an investigation into Hasan’s alleged
connections to Islamic radicals, but was unable to probe the everyday standards
and practices of the military base itself to find the hidden causes of GI
strife.

Introspection is needed to objectively analyze the effects of
the current political climate on our troops and see the hidden costs of war on
our country in order to reconcile tendencies towards racism in public perception
and to move on after this national trauma.

When President Obama
visited Fort
Hood
to offer his condolences to victims of the November 5, 2009,
shooting
, the GI’s were told by their chain of command to line up for their
chance to shake the president’s hand. One GI, Pfc. Michael Kern, member of the
Fort Hood chapter of

Iraq Veterans Against the War, knew the president was coming. Kern attempted
to hand the president a letter written on behalf of the veterans’ organization
demanding that the military radically overhaul its mental health care system and
halt the practice of repeated deployment of the same troops. Although he
couldn’t hand the letter directly to the president due to security reasons, the
letter did arrive to him through the proper channels.

On January 15,
2010, Kern organized a protest outside the east gate entrance to the base that
focused on overmedicating of the soldiers stationed there and the lack of mental
health resources and counseling. The protest, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 5
p.m., maintained approximately 30 people throughout the day as protesters
rotated to avoid the cold and the rain. The event was co-organized by Under the Hood Café, a local coffee
house and outreach center that counsels soldiers coming back from war and offers
basic services to GI’s in need, including referrals for counseling, legal advice
and information on GI rights.

“If it wasn’t for Under
the Hood, I’d be dead,” Kern said after the protest.

Under the Hood Café
manager Cynthia Thomas said the coffee house concept originated in the 1960’s
during the GI movement against the Vietnam War. When the US invaded Iraq and
Afghanistan, Thomas began working with Iraq Veterans Against the War to have a house
near Fort
Hood
because it is the largest US military base in the world. The Fort Hood
Support Network helped Thomas to get a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status for the
center, she said.

“The troops are overmedicated. We see it all the time.

Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder
has been more serious, especially since the November 5
shooting
,” she said.

Thomas said counselors sometimes have to drive
GI’s to their appointments and to the base because they are so heavily medicated
that they cannot drive themselves. Many have chronic migraines that keep them
from driving, she said.

“On average, most of the soldiers I have talked
to take 20 to 25 medications per day and some look as though they are in the
advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease; some actually stumble from their meds,”
Under the Hood counselor Matti
Litaker said.

One active-duty soldier came back to the café after meeting
the protesters outside Fort Hood . The 20-year-old GI, Mick, would
only give his first name due to his active-duty status. Mick had suffered three
concussions after coming too close to an Improvised
Explosive Device
in Iraq, and now has a Traumatic Brain
Injury
.

“They expect you to be the perfect soldier and the perfect
civilian,” he said. “The government expects us to be bipolar, to separate work
life from home life.”

After Mick had received his TBI, he tried to
“chapter out,” or leave the Army. He had a court date for an unrelated crime,
and was expecting to get a discharge when his superior told him that he would
make sure that Mick didn’t go to his court date so that he could stay in the
Army. He said that he was hopeful because he could get “med-boarded” for his TBI
and get a discharge.

Mick said he knew that another GI had been illegally
deployed when he was 17 and that while he was in Iraq during the 2008 election,
the absentee ballots for the soldiers vote did not come in until three weeks
after they were supposed to be due back in the states.

“I don’t think we
got to vote in that election,” he said. Kern backed up his account, saying that
he too did not get his absentee ballot in time to vote in the 2008
election.

Kern said that he had joined the military with “hopes of doing
right for all of humanity.” Kern said that he didn’t join the Army for the
money, but because he believed in the mission of the Army and that when he
joined he supported the war. All of that changed when he killed a child in Iraq.
After he returned to the States he was transferred to the Warrior Transition Brigade,
where he saw many soldiers who were missing limbs and who were “messed up in the
head.”

He then found Under the Hood Café and joined the

Iraq Veterans Against
the War
. Kern said that after he knew Obama had received the letter from the
IVAW, he wrote an email to the president outlining many GI concerns. He told the
president that he was planning on paying him a visit to talk about the issues on
behalf of the IVAW, but after Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan he
“realized [Obama] was the same as Bush.”

Kern is on many meds himself. He
pulled out his current medications prescription list. There were a total of 47
different medications that had been prescribed to Kern within the last 180 days
before January 15, 2010.

“If the Army asks, yeah I take it all, but I
don’t really take it all,” he said.

Kern said he believes that the
government and pharmaceutical companies are testing drugs on the soldiers in
war. He said that the soldiers were given an H1N1 vaccine that had not been FDA approved and that
later on after the GI’s had taken it, it was recalled.
He also said that the Army is giving the soldiers Botox injections for their
brain nerves, for pain, but that the procedure is not yet FDA
approved.

Kern is currently working on a piece called “Creating an
Activist,” which details his struggles overseas and as well as back home, both
inside and outside the Army.

Could there be something more to the Fort
Hood shooting than Islamist extremism? Hasan himself was a psychiatrist,
prescribing meds to soldiers in order to make them “deployable,” and was about
to be deployed to Afghanistan before the shooting. What happened on November 5,
2009, was truly devastating, but the event can serve as an eye opener for the
state of the country, for the state of our soldiers, and for the state of the
wars.

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ANTIDEPRESSANTS & PAINKILLERS: Soldier Dies in his Sleep: Virginia

NOTE FROM Ann Blake-Tracy:

The first four paragraphs of this article reads like a classic
recipe for antidepressant adverse reactions, listing all of the most common and
then the reference to them being the signs of PTSD even though he was never in
combat. What is interesting is that the family understood enough to relate
it all to the drugs. And then to know that the drugs did kill him.
What they did not understand though is how much of a part of
the sexual assault the drugs might have played.
First of all false accusations of sexual assault is so
commonly reported by someone on antidepressants that for two decades I have
generally asked who the patient believes has sexually assaulted them if they
have been on these drugs more than a couple of years. The extremely vivid
drug-induced nightmares are often sexual in nature leading patients to believe
these attacks were real because they were so vivid and because the
patient can no longer detect dreams from reality while on these
drugs.
But the second component is the widespread use of these drugs
in the military and their potential to produce sexual compulsions which would
produce more sexual attacks as well as the potential of antidepressants to
produce homosexual reactions in those previously heterosexual.
So if this young man really was attacked and it was not a
delusion, the attacker may have been on an antidepressant and experiencing
the adverse reaction of mania – in particular, nymphomania-a pathological
compulsion for sex:
_____________________________________
“For years after the parachute accident that ended his Army
service, Cody Openshaw spiraled downward.

He entered college but couldn’t
keep up with his studies. He had trouble holding a job. He drank too much. He
had trouble sleeping, and when he did sleep, he had nightmares. He got married
and divorced in less than a year. He had flashbacks. He isolated himself from
his friends and drank more.

His anxiety level was out of this world,” his father said. “This was a young man who got straight A’s in high school, and
now he couldn’t function.”

Openshaw had the classic symptoms of
post-traumatic stress disorder, even though he had never been in combat. His
parents attributed the trauma to the accident and the heavy medications he was
taking for the continuing pain.

Paragraphs 61 through 64 read:  “He was still heavily
medicated, however –
with narcotics for the lingering
pain from his parachute accident and antidepressants for his
post-traumatic stress disorder.”

His first night at home,
he went to bed and never woke up.”

“The
cause of death was respiratory arrest from prescription drug
toxicity.
He was 25.”

” ‘These medications that he was on, they
build up in your bloodstream to the point of toxicity,’  his father
said.  ‘And that’s what we’re assuming happened’.”

http://hamptonroads.com/2009/10/military-men-are-silent-victims-sexual-assault

Military men are silent victims of sexual assault

By Bill
Sizemore

The Virginian-Pilot
© October 4, 2009

For years after
the parachute accident that ended his Army service, Cody Openshaw spiraled
downward.

He entered college but couldn’t keep up with his studies. He
had trouble holding a job. He drank too much. He had trouble sleeping, and when
he did sleep, he had nightmares. He got married and divorced in less than a
year. He had flashbacks. He isolated himself from his friends and drank
more.

His anxiety level was out of this world,” his father said. “This
was a young man who got straight A’s in high school, and now he couldn’t
function.”

Openshaw had the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress
disorder, even though he had never been in combat. His parents attributed the
trauma to the accident and the heavy medications he was taking for the
continuing pain.

But there was more.

Finally, he broke down and
told his father.

A few months after his accident, as he was awaiting his

medical discharge from the Army, he had been sexually assaulted.

The
attack left him physically injured and emotionally shattered. Inhibited by
shame, embarrassment, sexual confusion and fear, it took him five years to come
forward with the full story.

What truly sets this story apart, however,
is not the details of the case, horrific as they are, but the gender of the
victim.

There is a widespread presumption that most victims of sexual
assault in the military services are women. That presumption, however, is
false.

In a 2006 survey of active-duty troops, 6.8 percent of women and
1.8 percent of men said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact in the
previous 12 months. Since there are far more men than women in the services,
that translates into roughly 22,000 men and 14,000 women.

Among women,
the number of victims who report their assaults is small. Among men, it is
infinitesimal. Last year the services received 2,530 reports of sexual assault
involving female victims – and 220 involving male victims.

One of them
was Pfc. Cody Openshaw.

Now his family has made the difficult decision to
go public with his story in the hope that it will prompt the military services
to confront the reality of male sexual assault.

As Openshaw’s father put
it in an interview, “Now that they know, what are they going to do about it.”

Openshaw grew up in a large Mormon family in Utah, the fifth of
nine children. He was a mild-tempered child, an Eagle Scout who dreamed of
becoming a brain surgeon.

He was an athlete, a tireless hockey player and
a lover of the outdoors. He was prone to take off on a moment’s notice to go
hiking or camping – sometimes with a friend, often just him and his tent – among
Utah’s rugged canyons and brown scrub-covered mountains.

He had a
sensitive side, too: He was a published poet.

He looked big and menacing
but he was really a teddy bear, one of his brothers said.

When he walked
into a room, a sister said, everyone would light up.

He also had a
mischievous streak. Once after joining the Army in 2001, he went home on leave
unannounced for his mother’s birthday. He had himself wrapped up in a big
cardboard box and delivered to the front porch. When his mother opened the box,
he popped out.

Openshaw volunteered for the 82nd Airborne Division, based
at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he excelled as a paralegal and paratrooper. But his

military career came to an untimely end shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks.

As his unit was training to invade Afghanistan, a
parachute malfunction sent Openshaw plummeting 60 feet to the ground, causing
severe stress fractures in his spine and both legs.

For months as he
awaited his medical discharge, he was plagued by chronic pain. The medications
prescribed by the Army doctors only helped so much, and alcohol became a kind of
self-medication.

After a night on the town with a fellow soldier, his

father learned later, Openshaw returned to the barracks and encountered a
solicitous platoon sergeant.

His legs were hurting, and the sergeant
said, “Let me rub your legs.” Then the contact became violently sexual. Openshaw
– drunk, disabled and outranked – was in no position to resist.

The next
day the sergeant told him, “Just remember, accidents happen. They can happen to
you and to your family. You know, people show up missing.”

The story came
out in tortured bits and pieces.

Openshaw confided in his older sister
the next day in an agonized phone call but swore her to secrecy. He took his

assailant’s warning as a death threat.

“He was worried about me and the
rest of the family,” his sister said. “He said ‘We need to keep it quiet.’

Because of the reported threat to Openshaw’s family, their names and
locations have been omitted from this story.

He finally told his
therapist at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City, who
referred him to a VA sexual assault treatment center in Bay Pines, Fla. As part
of his therapy there, Openshaw shared more of the traumatic episode in a letter
to his father.

“He wanted to get better,” his brother said. ” He decided,
‘I’m going to beat this. I’m tired of five years of depression. I want to feel
alive again.’ ”

A longtime friend thinks guilt was a factor in Openshaw’s
reluctance to come forward with his story.

“I think he blamed himself
because he was drinking,” the friend said. “When the assault happened, he said
he remembered laying there and he was so drunk that he couldn’t do anything
about it.

“It really affected him. He struggled even with asking a girl
out on a date. He felt unworthy.”

Trauma from sexual assault has
become so commonplace in the military that it now has its own designation: MST,
for military sexual trauma.

The VA was first authorized to provide sexual
assault outreach and counseling to female veterans after a series of
congressional hearings in 1992. As the realization dawned that this was not just
a women’s issue, those services were extended to male veterans.

According
to a 2007 study by a team of VA researchers, a nationwide screening of veterans
seeking VA services turned up more than 60,000 with sexual trauma. More than
half of those – nearly 32,000 – were men.

Those numbers almost certainly
understate the problem, the researchers wrote, concluding that the population of
sexually traumatized men and women under the treatment of the VA is “alarmingly
large.”

Sexual trauma, the researchers found, poses a risk for developing
post-traumatic stress disorder “as high as or higher than combat
exposure.”

Among active-duty personnel, the Defense Department has
embarked on what it says is an unprecedented effort to wipe out sexual assault

in the ranks.

Key to that effort, the department says, is encouraging a
climate in which victims feel free to report the crime without fear of
retribution, stigma or harm to their careers.

In 2005, Congress
authorized the creation of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the
Military Services to examine how well the services are carrying out that
mission. Its final report is being prepared now.

The task force fanned
out across the world, hearing stories from dozens of service members who had
been victimized by sexual predators. In April, at a public meeting in Norfolk,
the group saw a slide presentation prepared by Cody Openshaw’s father.

As
the story unfolded, the hotel conference room fell silent. By the end, the
staffer who presented it – a crusty retired general – was close to
tears.

It was a rare event: Of 58 stories collected by the task force
over a year of meetings and interviews, only seven involved male
victims.

If the crime is seldom reported, it follows that it is seldom
prosecuted. According to Army court-martial records, 65 sexual assault cases
involving male victims have been prosecuted worldwide in the past five years.
There were almost 10 times that many cases, 621, involving female
victims.

The Air Force, Navy and Marines were unable to provide a
breakdown of sexual assault cases by gender.

Jim Hopper, a psychology
instructor at Harvard Medical School who has studied male sexual abuse, said
victims’ reluctance to come forward is rooted in biology and gender
socialization.

Males are biologically wired to be more emotionally
reactive and expressive than females, Hopper said, but they are socialized to
suppress their emotions.

“Boys are not supposed to be vulnerable, sad,
helpless, ashamed, afraid, submissive – anything like that is totally taboo for
boys,” he said. “The messages come from everywhere. Right from the start, a
fundamental aspect of their being is labeled as not OK.”

Military
training reinforces that socialization, Hopper said. “It conditions men to
accept physical wounds, death and killing while leaving them unprepared for
emotional wounds that assault their male identity.

“When they get
assaulted, they’re unprepared to deal with their vulnerable emotions. They
resist seeking help. They believe that their hard-earned soldier-based
masculinity has been shattered. They’re going to feel betrayed, alienated,
isolated, unworthy. They feel like they’re a fake, a fraud, not a real man,”
Hopper said.

Openshaw’s father, a marriage and family therapist, fears
that the plight of male victims will continue to get short shrift.

“The
military should take a more proactive role in understanding male sexual
assault,” he said. “They need to set up some way that these young men can get
some services without feeling so humiliated. They don ‘t have to be so macho.”

When Openshaw returned home from treatment in Florida in April
2008, his family and friends were buoyed by hope that he had turned a
corner.

The two months of treatment “did a world of good,” one friend
said.

“He texted me and said, ‘I’ve learned so many things. I’ve learned
that bad things can happen to good people, and it’s not their fault.’

“He was so excited to come home,” a sister said. “He was planning a big
party. He wanted everybody to see he was better.”

He was still heavily
medicated, however – with narcotics for the lingering pain from his parachute
accident and antidepressants for his post-traumatic stress disorder.

His

first night at home, he went to bed and never woke up.

The cause of death
was respiratory arrest from prescription drug toxicity. He was 25.

“These
medications that he was on, they build up in your bloodstream to the point of
toxicity,” his father said. “And that’s what we’re assuming happened.”

He
does not think his son committed suicide.

“I have nine children,
including Cody, and 15 grandchildren,” he said. “Cody had made arrangements for
them all to come over the next day. There was absolutely nothing in his affect
or demeanor that would suggest that he would kill himself.”

He is buried
beside a pine tree on a flat, grassy hilltop in the shadow of his beloved
mountains. His gravestone is adorned by U.S. flags, flowers and cartoon bird
figures recalling his whimsical streak.

A year later, his death remains
an open wound for the family. One younger brother is “very angry with God,” his

father said. He refuses to visit the grave.

Openshaw’s young nieces and
nephews still talk about him and ask when he’s coming over to play.

“Kids
loved him to pieces,” his mother said. “He affected everybody he
met.”

She, like her husband, hopes her son’s story will prompt the
military services to take male sexual assault more seriously: “Something needs
to be done so other service members and their families don’t have to go through
this.”

The Army Criminal Investigation Command investigated the case, but
with the victim dead and no eyewitnesses, the initial conclusion was that there
was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

The suspect has been questioned
but remains on active duty. He has been recently deployed in Iraq.

If the
case is not prosecuted, the suspect may be subject to administrative
sanctions.

Louis Iasiello, a retired rear admiral and chief of Navy
chaplains who co-chairs the sexual assault task force, said that when commanding
officers take the crime seriously, victims – whether male or female – are more
likely to come forward.

“The command really does set the tone,” he said.
In places where the command set a positive tone and also set a zero tolerance
toward this crime, it was very obvious that people felt more comfortable coming
forward and reporting an incident and getting the help they needed to begin the
healing process.”

In the Openshaw case, that clearly didn’t happen, said
Thomas Cuthbert, the task force staffer who presented the story in

Norfolk.

At the time of his attack, Openshaw was in a holding unit at
Fort Bragg for soldiers awaiting medical discharge.

“Instead of
protecting him while he was being treated, he was left alone and subject to a
predator,” said Cuthbert, a retired brigadier general.

“The kid was not
in a position where he was fully capable of defending himself, and he got hurt
by some hoodlum wearing a uniform. Any Army officer worth his salt, looking at
those facts, would get angry.

“He needed help, and instead he received
abuse of the worst kind. Leadership can’t prevent all crime. But when someone in

authority takes advantage of a subordinate, leadership should be held
accountable.”

If the services are serious about coming to grips with male
sexual assault, Cuthbert said, there is still much work to be done.

If it
can happen to a talented, promising soldier in the 82nd Airborne, he said,
plenty of others who aren’t as independent or as capable of taking care of
themselves also are at risk.

“Nobody in uniform is very happy talking
about this issue. They don’t want to publicly admit it’s there, although we all
know it’s there.”

Bill Sizemore, (757) 446-2276,
bill.sizemore@pilotonline.com

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ANTIDEPRESSANTS: FT CARSON Soldier (Freeman) Attempted Murder

Freeman said the hospital staff prescribed him antidepressants and told him they were so busy that he wouldn’t receive counseling for a month.

A few weeks later, on Feb. 22, 2006, Freeman got in a fight with a man he had never met, Kenneth Tatum, in the China Express restaurant on B Street. Freeman pulled out his .357 and, before he knew it, he said, Tatum was bleeding on the ground. He had shot him through the thigh.

Freeman was arrested for attempted murder and pleaded guilty to felony menacing. He served two years and got out in January. He is unemployed, living at his mother’s house in Alabama. He said he still has headaches and memory problems and is getting therapy for PTSD at a nearby Veterans Affairs hospital.

Because of his crime, he is not eligible for most Army benefits.

“I was a good soldier before this,” he said. “Now I’m a screwed-up Iraq vet with a felony conviction. I don’t have many prospects. I was good at what I did in the infantry. . . . Too bad it followed me home.”

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Casualties of War, Part I: The hell of war comes home

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July 26, 2009 3:30 PM
THE GAZETTE

Before the murders started, Anthony Marquez’s mom dialed his sergeant at Fort Carson to warn that her son was poised to kill.

It was February 2006, and the 21-year-old soldier had not been the same since being wounded and coming home from Iraqeight months before. He had violent outbursts and thrashing nightmares. He was devouring pain pills and drinking too much. He always packed a gun.

(A word of caution about the language and content of this story: Please see Editor’s Note)

“It was a dangerous combination. I told them he was a walking time bomb,” said his mother, Teresa Hernandez.

His sergeant told her there was nothing he could do. Then, she said, he started taunting her son, saying things like, “Your mommy called. She says you are going crazy.”

Eight months later, the time bomb exploded when her son used a stun gun to repeatedly shock a small-time drug dealer in Widefield over an ounce of marijuana, then shot him through the heart.

Marquez was the first infantry soldier in his brigade to murder someone after returning from Iraq. But he wasn’t the last.

Hear the prison interviews with Kenneth Eastridge.

Marquez’s 3,500-soldier unit — now called the 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team — fought in some of the bloodiest places in Iraq, taking the most casualties of any Fort Carson unit by far.

Back home, 10 of its infantrymen have been arrested and accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter since 2006. Others have committed suicide, or tried to.

Almost all those soldiers were kids, too young to buy a beer, when they volunteered for one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Almost none had serious criminal backgrounds. Many were awarded medals for good conduct.

But in the vicious confusion of battle in Iraq and with no clear enemy, many said training went out the window. Slaughter became a part of life. Soldiers in body armor went back for round after round of battle that would have killed warriors a generation ago. Discipline deteriorated. Soldiers say the torture and killing of Iraqi civilians lurked in the ranks. And when these soldiers came home to Colorado Springs suffering the emotional wounds of combat, soldiers say, some were ignored, some were neglected, some were thrown away and some were punished.

Some kept killing — this time in Colorado Springs.

Many of those soldiers are now behind bars, but their troubles still reach well beyond the walls of their cells — and even beyond the Army. Their unit deployed again in May, this time to one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous regions, near Khyber Pass.

This month, Fort Carson released a 126-page report by a task force of behavioral-health and Army professionals who looked for common threads in the soldiers’ crimes. They concluded that the intensity of battle, the long-standing stigma against seeking help, and shortcomings in substance-abuse and mental-health treatment may have converged with “negative outcomes,” but more study was needed.

Marquez, who was arrested before the latest programs were created, said he would never have pulled the trigger if he had not gone to Iraq.

“If I was just a guy off the street, I might have hesitated to shoot,” Marquez said this spring as he sat in the Bent County Correctional Facility, where he is serving 30 years. “But after Iraq, it was just natural.”

More killing by more soldiers followed.

In August 2007, Louis Bressler, 24, robbed and shot a soldier he picked up on a street in Colorado Springs.

In December 2007, Bressler and fellow soldiers Bruce Bastien Jr., 21, and Kenneth Eastridge, 24, left the bullet-riddled body of a soldier from their unit on a west-side street.

In May and June 2008, police say Rudolfo Torres-Gandarilla, 20, and Jomar Falu-Vives, 23, drove around with an assault rifle, randomly shooting people.

In September 2008, police say John Needham, 25, beat a former girlfriend to death.

Most of the killers were from a single 500-soldier unit within the brigade called the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, which nicknamed itself the “Lethal Warriors.”

Soldiers from other units at Fort Carson have committed crimes after deployments — military bookings at the El Paso County jail have tripled since the start of the Iraq war — but no other unit has a record as deadly as the soldiers of the 4th Brigade. The vast majority of the brigade’s soldiers have not committed crimes, but the number who have is far above the population at large. In a one-year period from the fall of 2007 to the fall of 2008, the murder rate for the 500 Lethal Warriors was 114 times the rate for Colorado Springs.

The battalion is overwhelmingly made up of young men, who, demographically, have the highest murder rate in the United States, but the brigade still has a murder rate 20 times that of young males as a whole.

The killings are only the headline-grabbing tip of a much broader pyramid of crime. Since 2005, the brigade’s returning soldiers have been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, DUIs, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides.

Like Marquez, most of the jailed soldiers struggled to adjust to life back home after combat. Like Marquez, many showed signs of growing trouble before they ended up behind bars. Like Marquez, all raise difficult questions about the cause of the violence.

Did the infantry turn some men into killers, or did killers seek out the infantry? Did the Army let in criminals, or did combat-tattered soldiers fall into criminal habits? Did Fort Carson fail to take care of soldiers, or did soldiers fail to take advantage of care they were offered?

And, most importantly, since the brigade is now in Afghanistan, is there a way to keep the violence from happening again?

Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, who took command of Fort Carson in the thick of the murders and ordered marked changes in how returning soldiers are treated, said he hopes so.

“When we see a problem, we try to identify it and really learn what we can do about it. That is what we are trying to do here,” Graham said in a June interview. “There is a culture and a stigma that need to change.”

Under his command, nearly everyone — from colonels to platoon sergeants — is now trained to help troops showing the signs of emotional stress. Fort Carson has doubled its number of behavioral-health counselors and tightened hospital regulations to the point where a soldier visiting an Army doctor for any reason, even a sprained ankle, can’t leave without a mental health evaluation. Graham has also volunteered Fort Carson as a testing ground for new Army programs to ease soldiers’ transition from war to home.

Eastridge, an infantry specialist now serving 10 years for accessory to murder, said it will take a lot to wipe away the stain of Iraq.

“The Army trains you to be this way. In bayonet training, the sergeant would yell, ‘What makes the grass grow?’ and we would yell, ‘Blood! Blood! Blood!’ as we stabbed the dummy. The Army pounds it into your head until it is instinct: Kill everybody, kill everybody. And you do. Then they just think you can just come home and turn it off. … If they don’t figure out how to take care of the soldiers they trained to kill, this is just going to keep happening.”

Satan’s throne

The violence started to take root in Iraq’s Sunni Triangle, where the brigade landed in September 2004.

“It was actually beautiful. There were lots of palm trees,” said Eastridge, who is a working-class kid from Kentucky who had never really been anywhere before he joined the Army.

But, he said, “the situation was ugly.”

It was a little more than a year after President George W. Bush had landed on an aircraft carrier in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner to announce the end of major combat operations. But the situation was growing worse. Rival militias of Sunnis and Shiites were gaining strength. Looting had crippled cities. And in a war with no clear front or enemy, the average monthly body count for U.S. soldiers was up 25 percent from a year earlier.

The brigade was in the worst of it.

None of it bothered Marquez.

In high school, he had been a co-captain on the football team and had run track. After graduation, he joined the infantry because the Army commercials full of guns and helicopters looked like the coolest job in the world.

Eastridge felt the same way. He was the closest thing to a criminal in the group of soldiers later arrested for murder. He was trying to get his life together after growing up with a mother addicted to cocaine. He had been arrested for reckless homicide when he was 12, after he accidentally shot his best friend in the chest while playing with his father’s antique shotgun. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to counseling. After that, his record had been clean.

Felons cannot join the Army unless they get a waiver from a recruiter. Eastridge said he called a dozen until one told him, “Son, it looks like you just need someone to give you a chance.”

Like Marquez, Eastridge wanted to join the infantry because, he said, “that’s where you get to do all the awesome stuff.”

After basic training, the Army sent both men to South Korea.

They were in different battalions of what became the 4th Brigade Combat Team. Marquez was in the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment; Eastridge, the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment. Both were foot soldiers. Both were surrounded by other young, gung-ho GIs with no battle experience. And both learned in the spring of 2004 that they were going to Iraq.

“We thought it would be cool. It was what we signed up for,” Marquez said.

It turned out not to be cool at all.

Ramadi, where Marquez landed, had a population the size of Colorado Springs but had no dependable electricity, let alone law and order. Sewage ran in rubble-choked streets. The temperature sometimes rose to 120 degrees.

And when roadside bombs blew civilians to bits, soldiers said, packs of feral dogs fought over the scraps.

Pat Dollard, a documentary filmmaker embedded in the area at the time, wrote that it looked like “Satan had punched a hole in the Earth’s surface, plopped down his throne, and set up shop.”

Marquez was assigned to hunt terrorists in the city. Eastridge patrolled the highway between Ramadi and Fallujah. With him was Bressler, a quiet, friendly gunner later arrested with Eastridge for murder.

Going on a mission usually meant tramping house to house in dust-colored camouflage, loaded down with rifles, pistols, body armor, ammo, grenades and water to fight the incessant heat.

Soldiers went out day and night, knocking on doors — sometimes kicking them in. They set up checkpoints. They seized weapons. They clapped hoods over suspected insurgents. They rarely found terrorists, but the terrorists found them.

A few days into the deployment, a sniper’s bullet killed Marquez’s lieutenant. Then another friend died in a car bombing. Then another.

Combat brigades always take higher casualties than the rest of the Army because they fight on the front lines, but, even by those standards, the 3,500-soldier brigade got pummeled. Sixty-four were killed and more than 400 were injured in the yearlong tour, according to Fort Carson — double the average for all Army brigades that have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the insurgents learned their craft, attacks became more gruesome.

A truck loaded with explosives careened into Eastridge’s platoon, killing his squad leader, blowing fist-size holes in his platoon sergeant and pinning the burning engine against the baby of the unit, Jose Barco.

Bombs meant to kill soldiers shredded anyone in the area. Women had their arms ripped off. Old men along the road were reduced to meat.

“It just got sickening,” said David Nash, a then-19-year-old private and Eastridge’s best friend. “There was a massive amount of hate for us in the city.”

One of the jobs of the infantry was to bag Iraqi bodies tossed in the streets at night by sectarian murder squads.

“First thing in the morning, all we would do is bag bodies,” Eastridge said. “Guys with drill bits in their eyes. Guys with nails in their heads.”

Eastridge said he was targeted by snipers twice. Both bullets smashed against walls so close to his face that they peppered his eyes with grit. He laughed at his luck. He loved being a soldier.

In February 2005, Eastridge was in the gun turret of his Humvee when it drove over an anti-tank mine. A deafening flash tore off the front end. Eastridge woke up a few minutes later, several feet from the smoking crater.

He sucked it up. He was bandaged up and sent back on patrol. He said cerebral fluid was leaking out of his ear.

That was the job of the infantry. Eastridge’s battalion was created in World War II and became known as the “Band of Brothers.” It parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. In Vietnam, it helped turn back the Tet Offensive and take Hamburger Hill.

Men who heard the stories of past glory almost never got a chance for their own in Iraq. The enemy was invisible. The leading cause of death was hidden roadside bombs.

Sometimes, Marquez felt his only purpose was to drive up and down roads in an armored personnel carrier called a Bradley to clear away hidden bombs.

To unwind, soldiers spent hours playing shoot-’em-up video games. They even played one based on their own unit in Vietnam. They said it offered a release. They could confront a clearly defined enemy. They could shoot, knowing they had the right guy. They could win.

In Ramadi, Marquez and other soldiers said, it felt like they were losing.

“It just seemed like the longer we were there, the worse it got,” said Marquez’s friend in the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, Daniel Freeman.

Freeman was knocked unconscious by a roadside bomb, but the most rattling thing, he said, was driving through the eerie calm, knowing an improvised explosive device, or IED, could kill every soldier in a Humvee without warning, or maybe just smoke one guy in the truck, leaving the others to wonder how, and why, they survived.

Hatred and mistrust simmered between soldiers and locals. Locals who waved to them one day would watch silently as they drove toward an IED the next.

“I’m all about spreading freedom and democracy and everything,” said Josh Butler, another soldier in the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment. “But it seems like the Iraqis didn’t even want it.”

Soldiers said discipline started to break down.

“Toward the end, we were so mad and tired and frustrated,” Freeman said. “You came too close, we lit you up. You didn’t stop, we ran your car over with the Bradley.”

If soldiers were hit by an IED, they would aim machine guns and grenade launchers in every direction, Marquez said, and “just light the whole area up. If anyone was around, that was their fault. We smoked ’em.”

Other soldiers said they shot random cars, killing civilians.

“It was just a free-for-all,” said Marcus Mifflin, 21, a friend of Eastridge who was medically discharged with PTSD after the tour. “You didn’t get blamed unless someone could be absolutely sure you did something wrong. And that was hard. So things happened. Taxi drivers got shot for no reason. Guys got kidnapped and taken to the bridge and interrogated and dropped off.”

Soldiers later told El Paso County sheriff’s deputies investigating Marquez for murder that, in Iraq, he got his hands on a stun gun similar to the one he later used on the Widefield drug dealer. They said he used it to “rough up” Iraqis.

Stun guns are banned by the Geneva Conventions. Using one is a war crime, but four soldiers interviewed by The Gazette said a number of soldiers ordered the stun guns over the Internet and carried them on raids. The brigade refused to make other soldiers who served during the tour available for interviews. The Army said it destroys disciplinary records after two years, so it has no knowledge of whether soldiers in the unit were punished.

After 10 months, Marquez said, all he wanted to do was go home.

In June 2005, with a month to go, his platoon was walking across a field when a sniper’s bullet smashed through his best friend’s skull under the helmet.

The platoon circled its guns and grenade launchers, Marquez said, and “tore that neighborhood up.”

That night, Marquez got hit. His squad had just finished hosing his friend’s blood out of their Bradley when they were called out on another mission. They loaded into two Bradleys and rolled toward downtown Ramadi.

Marquez was riding in the dark, cramped rear of the lead Bradley. In a flash, a blast tore through the floor. The engine exploded. Diesel fuel spewed everywhere in a plume of fire. Marquez said he watched the driver scramble out screaming, flames leaping from his clothes.

Marquez and the others clambered into the dark street, rifles ready. Another bomb slammed them to the ground.

Then came a flurry of bullets spitting across the dirt. Marquez was hit four times in the leg.

As blood spurted from his femoral artery, Marquez said, he raised his grenade launcher to return fire and realized the storm of bullets had come from the heavy machine gun on the other Bradley, which had just come around the corner.

“They must have seen our Bradley on fire, figured it was an attack and thought we were all dead,” he said this spring, shaking his head, “then just started shooting.”

According to the Army, two soldiers died. Marquez said three others were wounded. Brigade commanders didn’t make anyone familiar with the incident available.

Marquez was flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

He was still bleary on morphine on the Fourth of July weekend that he was told Bush was coming to award him a Purple Heart.

Marquez’s sister, who was visiting, didn’t want to see the president because she was so angry about the war and her brother’s wounds, but Marquez was honored.

“I had gotten hurt, but it is part of the job. I wasn’t mad at nobody,” Marquez said.

He was in the hospital for three months and had 17 surgeries so he could keep his leg. Marquez was being medically discharged from the Army and could have stayed at the hospital, but he transferred to Fort Carson on Sept. 13, 2005, to spend his remaining months with his war buddies, who had just returned from Iraq.

He eventually learned to walk without a cane, but other wounds proved harder to heal. He started having nightmares about the war. He felt worthless and crippled, depressed and angry. On a visit home to California, he made his mom put away all his high school sports trophies.

The only things that made him feel better were the pain pills the doctors prescribed for him — and only if he took too many.

‘Kumbaya period’

Post-traumatic stress disorder is like a roadside bomb.

The symptoms can remain hidden for months, then explode. They can cripple some soldiers and leave others untouched. And just like bombs disguised as trash or ruts in the road, PTSD can look like something else.

In many cases, it looks like a bad soldier. In addition to flashbacks and nightmares, Army studies say, symptoms can include heavy drinking, drug use, domestic violence, slacking off at work or disobeying orders.

You can often see it coming, said the most recent commanding general of Fort Carson, if you know what to look for.

Soldiers usually go through a jubilant high for a few months after they come home, Graham said. He calls this time “the Kumbaya period.”

“Soldiers have served their country, they’ve made it back, they’re home. It’s all great. It’s later that problems start to surface,” Graham said.

Usually, problems don’t show up for three to six months, he said.

When the brigade landed in Colorado Springs, most soldiers had spent a year in Iraq and a year in South Korea. Most had saved several thousand dollars. Many were old enough to legally drink in the United States for the first time. They had survived the worst of Iraq, and they were jonesing to blow off steam.

All they had to do was go through a few post-deployment debriefings that Fort Carson still uses.

Soldiers sit through classes that warn them that troops often have unrealistically rosy notions of home. They are told to be understanding with spouses and loved ones. They are cautioned to be careful with drinking and driving, and they are warned that the time for carrying a gun everywhere ended in Iraq.

All personal guns must be stored in the post’s armory — not in soldiers’ barracks, not in their cars and not tucked in their belts.

Then Fort Carson screens every soldier for PTSD and other combat-related problems.

If there are no red flags, the soldier can go on leave. If there are, they are referred for further diagnosis, officials at Fort Carson’s Evans Army Community Hospital said.

The screening asks soldiers a long list of questions about the deployment: Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you depressed? Did you clear houses or bunkers? Were you shot at? Did you witness brutality toward detainees? Did you have friends who were killed?

“Did you shoot people? Did you kill people? Did you see dead civilians? Did you see dead Americans? Did you see dead babies? No. No. No. No.” Eastridge said, mimicking how he answered the questionnaire.

“I had seen and done all that stuff, but you just lie to get it over with.”

Several soldiers said the same: They lied because they didn’t want the hassle of more screening.

When the young infantrymen were set free in Colorado Springs, many packed Tejon Street bars such as Rendezvous Lounge and Rum Bay. When the bars closed, soldiers said, they often picked fights in the street.

By 2006, the police were being called to break up bar brawls almost every night. Extra police were assigned to the area.

The Colorado Springs Police Department doesn’t track the crime statistics of individual units, but according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, jail bookings of military personnel as a whole increased 66 percent in the 12 months after the brigade returned.

The “Kumbaya period” lasted about six months, soldiers said.

Eastridge said he blew through almost $27,000, mostly drinking at bars, but the first thing he did was buy guns: pistols, shotguns and an assault rifle similar to the one he carried in Iraq.

“After being in Iraq, it feels like everyone is the enemy,” he said. “You feel like you need a gun so they don’t come to get you.”

His friends all felt the same way.

Nash slept with a loaded .45 under his pillow.

Butler kept a Glock .40-caliber with him all the time, even when he rocked his newborn baby.

Marquez bought three pistols, a riot-style shotgun and an assault rifle like the one he carried in Iraq. He carried a pistol constantly, he said, even when he went to church.

His buddy, Freeman, said he bought himself a “big, scary” snub-nose .357 revolver.

“I couldn’t go anywhere without it,” he said. “I took it to the mall. I took it to the bank. I even had it right next to me when I took a shower. It makes you feel powerful, less scared. You have to have it with you every second of every day.”

Some returning soldiers, especially those with family members to notice their behavior, went into counseling.

More than 200 Fort Carson soldiers have been referred to First Choice Counseling Center, a private counseling service in Colorado Springs. Davida Hoffman, the director, said her counselors were unprepared for what they heard.

“We’re used to seeing people who are depressed and want to hurt themselves. We’re trained to deal with that,” she said. “But these soldiers were depressed and saying, ‘I’ve got this anger, I want to hurt somebody.’ We weren’t accustomed to that.”

In units that have seen the toughest combat in Iraq, one in four soldiers can screen positive for PTSD, the director of psychiatry at Walter Reed, Dr. Charles Hoge, said in an e-mail interview.

“Many soldiers continue to be able to perform their duties very well despite having significant symptoms,” Hoge wrote. But others show what he called “serious impairment,” and the worse the combat and the longer units are exposed, the worse the effects.

The affliction is as old as war itself.

Eric Dean, an author in Connecticut who specializes in war’s psychological toll, reviewed records from the Civil War for his 1997 book, “Shook Over Hell,” and found the same surge of crime and suicide that Fort Carson has seen.

“They have been in every war,” he said. “They never readjusted. They ended up living alone, drinking too much.”

They were “the lost generation” of World War I. They are the veterans of Vietnam who disproportionately populate homeless shelters and prisons today.

The psychological casualties may be particularly heavy in Iraq, he said.

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ZOLOFT: FT CARSON – Soldier (Needham) Sucide Attempt, Murder

In March 2007, Needham went to the battalion’s doctor, saying he was “losing it” and needed a break, according to a summary of his service that he wrote. He was prescribed the antidepressant Zoloft and sent back to work. In May, Needham said, he went back to the doctor and was again sent back to work. In June, according to medical records, he went again. And in September. Commanders always sent him back out on patrol, he said.

Around that time, he posted a note on his MySpace page: “I’m falling apart by the seams it seems the days here bleed into each other I have to find the will to live man I miss my brothers. These walls are caving in my despair wraps me in its web, I feel I’m sinking in, throw me a lifesaver throw me a life worth living. I’m a part of death I am death this is hard to admit but this shits getting old.”

A few nights later, on Sept. 18, Needham and a fellow soldier bought a contraband can of whiskey and tried to drink away their sorrows. Then Needham took out a gun and fired a shot at his head, his father said. The bullet missed. Needham was detained by his commanders for illegally discharging a firearm. After a few weeks of arguing by phone and e-mail, Needham’s father convinced the unit to let his son see a doctor. The soldier was diagnosed with severe PTSD and flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“What led him to the point of such deep despair that he would attempt suicide?” his father, a retired Army officer, asked. “I understand it. He was trained as a soldier. He was a good soldier, and his group was doing things he knew was wrong. And he was in this prolonged combat situation where they have all this armor and lifesaving technology to keep them alive, but mentally, they are in pieces.”

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Casualties of War, Part I: The hell of war comes home

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July 26, 2009 3:30 PM
THE GAZETTE

Before the murders started, Anthony Marquez’s mom dialed his sergeant at Fort Carson to warn that her son was poised to kill.

It was February 2006, and the 21-year-old soldier had not been the same since being wounded and coming home from Iraqeight months before. He had violent outbursts and thrashing nightmares. He was devouring pain pills and drinking too much. He always packed a gun.

(A word of caution about the language and content of this story: Please see Editor’s Note)

“It was a dangerous combination. I told them he was a walking time bomb,” said his mother, Teresa Hernandez.

His sergeant told her there was nothing he could do. Then, she said, he started taunting her son, saying things like, “Your mommy called. She says you are going crazy.”

Eight months later, the time bomb exploded when her son used a stun gun to repeatedly shock a small-time drug dealer in Widefield over an ounce of marijuana, then shot him through the heart.

Marquez was the first infantry soldier in his brigade to murder someone after returning from Iraq. But he wasn’t the last.

Hear the prison interviews with Kenneth Eastridge.

Marquez’s 3,500-soldier unit — now called the 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team — fought in some of the bloodiest places in Iraq, taking the most casualties of any Fort Carson unit by far.

Back home, 10 of its infantrymen have been arrested and accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter since 2006. Others have committed suicide, or tried to.

Almost all those soldiers were kids, too young to buy a beer, when they volunteered for one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Almost none had serious criminal backgrounds. Many were awarded medals for good conduct.

But in the vicious confusion of battle in Iraq and with no clear enemy, many said training went out the window. Slaughter became a part of life. Soldiers in body armor went back for round after round of battle that would have killed warriors a generation ago. Discipline deteriorated. Soldiers say the torture and killing of Iraqi civilians lurked in the ranks. And when these soldiers came home to Colorado Springs suffering the emotional wounds of combat, soldiers say, some were ignored, some were neglected, some were thrown away and some were punished.

Some kept killing — this time in Colorado Springs.

Many of those soldiers are now behind bars, but their troubles still reach well beyond the walls of their cells — and even beyond the Army. Their unit deployed again in May, this time to one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous regions, near Khyber Pass.

This month, Fort Carson released a 126-page report by a task force of behavioral-health and Army professionals who looked for common threads in the soldiers’ crimes. They concluded that the intensity of battle, the long-standing stigma against seeking help, and shortcomings in substance-abuse and mental-health treatment may have converged with “negative outcomes,” but more study was needed.

Marquez, who was arrested before the latest programs were created, said he would never have pulled the trigger if he had not gone to Iraq.

“If I was just a guy off the street, I might have hesitated to shoot,” Marquez said this spring as he sat in the Bent County Correctional Facility, where he is serving 30 years. “But after Iraq, it was just natural.”

More killing by more soldiers followed.

In August 2007, Louis Bressler, 24, robbed and shot a soldier he picked up on a street in Colorado Springs.

In December 2007, Bressler and fellow soldiers Bruce Bastien Jr., 21, and Kenneth Eastridge, 24, left the bullet-riddled body of a soldier from their unit on a west-side street.

In May and June 2008, police say Rudolfo Torres-Gandarilla, 20, and Jomar Falu-Vives, 23, drove around with an assault rifle, randomly shooting people.

In September 2008, police say John Needham, 25, beat a former girlfriend to death.

Most of the killers were from a single 500-soldier unit within the brigade called the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, which nicknamed itself the “Lethal Warriors.”

Soldiers from other units at Fort Carson have committed crimes after deployments — military bookings at the El Paso County jail have tripled since the start of the Iraq war — but no other unit has a record as deadly as the soldiers of the 4th Brigade. The vast majority of the brigade’s soldiers have not committed crimes, but the number who have is far above the population at large. In a one-year period from the fall of 2007 to the fall of 2008, the murder rate for the 500 Lethal Warriors was 114 times the rate for Colorado Springs.

The battalion is overwhelmingly made up of young men, who, demographically, have the highest murder rate in the United States, but the brigade still has a murder rate 20 times that of young males as a whole.

The killings are only the headline-grabbing tip of a much broader pyramid of crime. Since 2005, the brigade’s returning soldiers have been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, DUIs, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides.

Like Marquez, most of the jailed soldiers struggled to adjust to life back home after combat. Like Marquez, many showed signs of growing trouble before they ended up behind bars. Like Marquez, all raise difficult questions about the cause of the violence.

Did the infantry turn some men into killers, or did killers seek out the infantry? Did the Army let in criminals, or did combat-tattered soldiers fall into criminal habits? Did Fort Carson fail to take care of soldiers, or did soldiers fail to take advantage of care they were offered?

And, most importantly, since the brigade is now in Afghanistan, is there a way to keep the violence from happening again?

Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, who took command of Fort Carson in the thick of the murders and ordered marked changes in how returning soldiers are treated, said he hopes so.

“When we see a problem, we try to identify it and really learn what we can do about it. That is what we are trying to do here,” Graham said in a June interview. “There is a culture and a stigma that need to change.”

Under his command, nearly everyone — from colonels to platoon sergeants — is now trained to help troops showing the signs of emotional stress. Fort Carson has doubled its number of behavioral-health counselors and tightened hospital regulations to the point where a soldier visiting an Army doctor for any reason, even a sprained ankle, can’t leave without a mental health evaluation. Graham has also volunteered Fort Carson as a testing ground for new Army programs to ease soldiers’ transition from war to home.

Eastridge, an infantry specialist now serving 10 years for accessory to murder, said it will take a lot to wipe away the stain of Iraq.

“The Army trains you to be this way. In bayonet training, the sergeant would yell, ‘What makes the grass grow?’ and we would yell, ‘Blood! Blood! Blood!’ as we stabbed the dummy. The Army pounds it into your head until it is instinct: Kill everybody, kill everybody. And you do. Then they just think you can just come home and turn it off. … If they don’t figure out how to take care of the soldiers they trained to kill, this is just going to keep happening.”

Satan’s throne

The violence started to take root in Iraq’s Sunni Triangle, where the brigade landed in September 2004.

“It was actually beautiful. There were lots of palm trees,” said Eastridge, who is a working-class kid from Kentucky who had never really been anywhere before he joined the Army.

But, he said, “the situation was ugly.”

It was a little more than a year after President George W. Bush had landed on an aircraft carrier in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner to announce the end of major combat operations. But the situation was growing worse. Rival militias of Sunnis and Shiites were gaining strength. Looting had crippled cities. And in a war with no clear front or enemy, the average monthly body count for U.S. soldiers was up 25 percent from a year earlier.

The brigade was in the worst of it.

None of it bothered Marquez.

In high school, he had been a co-captain on the football team and had run track. After graduation, he joined the infantry because the Army commercials full of guns and helicopters looked like the coolest job in the world.

Eastridge felt the same way. He was the closest thing to a criminal in the group of soldiers later arrested for murder. He was trying to get his life together after growing up with a mother addicted to cocaine. He had been arrested for reckless homicide when he was 12, after he accidentally shot his best friend in the chest while playing with his father’s antique shotgun. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to counseling. After that, his record had been clean.

Felons cannot join the Army unless they get a waiver from a recruiter. Eastridge said he called a dozen until one told him, “Son, it looks like you just need someone to give you a chance.”

Like Marquez, Eastridge wanted to join the infantry because, he said, “that’s where you get to do all the awesome stuff.”

After basic training, the Army sent both men to South Korea.

They were in different battalions of what became the 4th Brigade Combat Team. Marquez was in the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment; Eastridge, the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment. Both were foot soldiers. Both were surrounded by other young, gung-ho GIs with no battle experience. And both learned in the spring of 2004 that they were going to Iraq.

“We thought it would be cool. It was what we signed up for,” Marquez said.

It turned out not to be cool at all.

Ramadi, where Marquez landed, had a population the size of Colorado Springs but had no dependable electricity, let alone law and order. Sewage ran in rubble-choked streets. The temperature sometimes rose to 120 degrees.

And when roadside bombs blew civilians to bits, soldiers said, packs of feral dogs fought over the scraps.

Pat Dollard, a documentary filmmaker embedded in the area at the time, wrote that it looked like “Satan had punched a hole in the Earth’s surface, plopped down his throne, and set up shop.”

Marquez was assigned to hunt terrorists in the city. Eastridge patrolled the highway between Ramadi and Fallujah. With him was Bressler, a quiet, friendly gunner later arrested with Eastridge for murder.

Going on a mission usually meant tramping house to house in dust-colored camouflage, loaded down with rifles, pistols, body armor, ammo, grenades and water to fight the incessant heat.

Soldiers went out day and night, knocking on doors — sometimes kicking them in. They set up checkpoints. They seized weapons. They clapped hoods over suspected insurgents. They rarely found terrorists, but the terrorists found them.

A few days into the deployment, a sniper’s bullet killed Marquez’s lieutenant. Then another friend died in a car bombing. Then another.

Combat brigades always take higher casualties than the rest of the Army because they fight on the front lines, but, even by those standards, the 3,500-soldier brigade got pummeled. Sixty-four were killed and more than 400 were injured in the yearlong tour, according to Fort Carson — double the average for all Army brigades that have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the insurgents learned their craft, attacks became more gruesome.

A truck loaded with explosives careened into Eastridge’s platoon, killing his squad leader, blowing fist-size holes in his platoon sergeant and pinning the burning engine against the baby of the unit, Jose Barco.

Bombs meant to kill soldiers shredded anyone in the area. Women had their arms ripped off. Old men along the road were reduced to meat.

“It just got sickening,” said David Nash, a then-19-year-old private and Eastridge’s best friend. “There was a massive amount of hate for us in the city.”

One of the jobs of the infantry was to bag Iraqi bodies tossed in the streets at night by sectarian murder squads.

“First thing in the morning, all we would do is bag bodies,” Eastridge said. “Guys with drill bits in their eyes. Guys with nails in their heads.”

Eastridge said he was targeted by snipers twice. Both bullets smashed against walls so close to his face that they peppered his eyes with grit. He laughed at his luck. He loved being a soldier.

In February 2005, Eastridge was in the gun turret of his Humvee when it drove over an anti-tank mine. A deafening flash tore off the front end. Eastridge woke up a few minutes later, several feet from the smoking crater.

He sucked it up. He was bandaged up and sent back on patrol. He said cerebral fluid was leaking out of his ear.

That was the job of the infantry. Eastridge’s battalion was created in World War II and became known as the “Band of Brothers.” It parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. In Vietnam, it helped turn back the Tet Offensive and take Hamburger Hill.

Men who heard the stories of past glory almost never got a chance for their own in Iraq. The enemy was invisible. The leading cause of death was hidden roadside bombs.

Sometimes, Marquez felt his only purpose was to drive up and down roads in an armored personnel carrier called a Bradley to clear away hidden bombs.

To unwind, soldiers spent hours playing shoot-’em-up video games. They even played one based on their own unit in Vietnam. They said it offered a release. They could confront a clearly defined enemy. They could shoot, knowing they had the right guy. They could win.

In Ramadi, Marquez and other soldiers said, it felt like they were losing.

“It just seemed like the longer we were there, the worse it got,” said Marquez’s friend in the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, Daniel Freeman.

Freeman was knocked unconscious by a roadside bomb, but the most rattling thing, he said, was driving through the eerie calm, knowing an improvised explosive device, or IED, could kill every soldier in a Humvee without warning, or maybe just smoke one guy in the truck, leaving the others to wonder how, and why, they survived.

Hatred and mistrust simmered between soldiers and locals. Locals who waved to them one day would watch silently as they drove toward an IED the next.

“I’m all about spreading freedom and democracy and everything,” said Josh Butler, another soldier in the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment. “But it seems like the Iraqis didn’t even want it.”

Soldiers said discipline started to break down.

“Toward the end, we were so mad and tired and frustrated,” Freeman said. “You came too close, we lit you up. You didn’t stop, we ran your car over with the Bradley.”

If soldiers were hit by an IED, they would aim machine guns and grenade launchers in every direction, Marquez said, and “just light the whole area up. If anyone was around, that was their fault. We smoked ’em.”

Other soldiers said they shot random cars, killing civilians.

“It was just a free-for-all,” said Marcus Mifflin, 21, a friend of Eastridge who was medically discharged with PTSD after the tour. “You didn’t get blamed unless someone could be absolutely sure you did something wrong. And that was hard. So things happened. Taxi drivers got shot for no reason. Guys got kidnapped and taken to the bridge and interrogated and dropped off.”

Soldiers later told El Paso County sheriff’s deputies investigating Marquez for murder that, in Iraq, he got his hands on a stun gun similar to the one he later used on the Widefield drug dealer. They said he used it to “rough up” Iraqis.

Stun guns are banned by the Geneva Conventions. Using one is a war crime, but four soldiers interviewed by The Gazette said a number of soldiers ordered the stun guns over the Internet and carried them on raids. The brigade refused to make other soldiers who served during the tour available for interviews. The Army said it destroys disciplinary records after two years, so it has no knowledge of whether soldiers in the unit were punished.

After 10 months, Marquez said, all he wanted to do was go home.

In June 2005, with a month to go, his platoon was walking across a field when a sniper’s bullet smashed through his best friend’s skull under the helmet.

The platoon circled its guns and grenade launchers, Marquez said, and “tore that neighborhood up.”

That night, Marquez got hit. His squad had just finished hosing his friend’s blood out of their Bradley when they were called out on another mission. They loaded into two Bradleys and rolled toward downtown Ramadi.

Marquez was riding in the dark, cramped rear of the lead Bradley. In a flash, a blast tore through the floor. The engine exploded. Diesel fuel spewed everywhere in a plume of fire. Marquez said he watched the driver scramble out screaming, flames leaping from his clothes.

Marquez and the others clambered into the dark street, rifles ready. Another bomb slammed them to the ground.

Then came a flurry of bullets spitting across the dirt. Marquez was hit four times in the leg.

As blood spurted from his femoral artery, Marquez said, he raised his grenade launcher to return fire and realized the storm of bullets had come from the heavy machine gun on the other Bradley, which had just come around the corner.

“They must have seen our Bradley on fire, figured it was an attack and thought we were all dead,” he said this spring, shaking his head, “then just started shooting.”

According to the Army, two soldiers died. Marquez said three others were wounded. Brigade commanders didn’t make anyone familiar with the incident available.

Marquez was flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

He was still bleary on morphine on the Fourth of July weekend that he was told Bush was coming to award him a Purple Heart.

Marquez’s sister, who was visiting, didn’t want to see the president because she was so angry about the war and her brother’s wounds, but Marquez was honored.

“I had gotten hurt, but it is part of the job. I wasn’t mad at nobody,” Marquez said.

He was in the hospital for three months and had 17 surgeries so he could keep his leg. Marquez was being medically discharged from the Army and could have stayed at the hospital, but he transferred to Fort Carson on Sept. 13, 2005, to spend his remaining months with his war buddies, who had just returned from Iraq.

He eventually learned to walk without a cane, but other wounds proved harder to heal. He started having nightmares about the war. He felt worthless and crippled, depressed and angry. On a visit home to California, he made his mom put away all his high school sports trophies.

The only things that made him feel better were the pain pills the doctors prescribed for him — and only if he took too many.

‘Kumbaya period’

Post-traumatic stress disorder is like a roadside bomb.

The symptoms can remain hidden for months, then explode. They can cripple some soldiers and leave others untouched. And just like bombs disguised as trash or ruts in the road, PTSD can look like something else.

In many cases, it looks like a bad soldier. In addition to flashbacks and nightmares, Army studies say, symptoms can include heavy drinking, drug use, domestic violence, slacking off at work or disobeying orders.

You can often see it coming, said the most recent commanding general of Fort Carson, if you know what to look for.

Soldiers usually go through a jubilant high for a few months after they come home, Graham said. He calls this time “the Kumbaya period.”

“Soldiers have served their country, they’ve made it back, they’re home. It’s all great. It’s later that problems start to surface,” Graham said.

Usually, problems don’t show up for three to six months, he said.

When the brigade landed in Colorado Springs, most soldiers had spent a year in Iraq and a year in South Korea. Most had saved several thousand dollars. Many were old enough to legally drink in the United States for the first time. They had survived the worst of Iraq, and they were jonesing to blow off steam.

All they had to do was go through a few post-deployment debriefings that Fort Carson still uses.

Soldiers sit through classes that warn them that troops often have unrealistically rosy notions of home. They are told to be understanding with spouses and loved ones. They are cautioned to be careful with drinking and driving, and they are warned that the time for carrying a gun everywhere ended in Iraq.

All personal guns must be stored in the post’s armory — not in soldiers’ barracks, not in their cars and not tucked in their belts.

Then Fort Carson screens every soldier for PTSD and other combat-related problems.

If there are no red flags, the soldier can go on leave. If there are, they are referred for further diagnosis, officials at Fort Carson’s Evans Army Community Hospital said.

The screening asks soldiers a long list of questions about the deployment: Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you depressed? Did you clear houses or bunkers? Were you shot at? Did you witness brutality toward detainees? Did you have friends who were killed?

“Did you shoot people? Did you kill people? Did you see dead civilians? Did you see dead Americans? Did you see dead babies? No. No. No. No.” Eastridge said, mimicking how he answered the questionnaire.

“I had seen and done all that stuff, but you just lie to get it over with.”

Several soldiers said the same: They lied because they didn’t want the hassle of more screening.

When the young infantrymen were set free in Colorado Springs, many packed Tejon Street bars such as Rendezvous Lounge and Rum Bay. When the bars closed, soldiers said, they often picked fights in the street.

By 2006, the police were being called to break up bar brawls almost every night. Extra police were assigned to the area.

The Colorado Springs Police Department doesn’t track the crime statistics of individual units, but according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, jail bookings of military personnel as a whole increased 66 percent in the 12 months after the brigade returned.

The “Kumbaya period” lasted about six months, soldiers said.

Eastridge said he blew through almost $27,000, mostly drinking at bars, but the first thing he did was buy guns: pistols, shotguns and an assault rifle similar to the one he carried in Iraq.

“After being in Iraq, it feels like everyone is the enemy,” he said. “You feel like you need a gun so they don’t come to get you.”

His friends all felt the same way.

Nash slept with a loaded .45 under his pillow.

Butler kept a Glock .40-caliber with him all the time, even when he rocked his newborn baby.

Marquez bought three pistols, a riot-style shotgun and an assault rifle like the one he carried in Iraq. He carried a pistol constantly, he said, even when he went to church.

His buddy, Freeman, said he bought himself a “big, scary” snub-nose .357 revolver.

“I couldn’t go anywhere without it,” he said. “I took it to the mall. I took it to the bank. I even had it right next to me when I took a shower. It makes you feel powerful, less scared. You have to have it with you every second of every day.”

Some returning soldiers, especially those with family members to notice their behavior, went into counseling.

More than 200 Fort Carson soldiers have been referred to First Choice Counseling Center, a private counseling service in Colorado Springs. Davida Hoffman, the director, said her counselors were unprepared for what they heard.

“We’re used to seeing people who are depressed and want to hurt themselves. We’re trained to deal with that,” she said. “But these soldiers were depressed and saying, ‘I’ve got this anger, I want to hurt somebody.’ We weren’t accustomed to that.”

In units that have seen the toughest combat in Iraq, one in four soldiers can screen positive for PTSD, the director of psychiatry at Walter Reed, Dr. Charles Hoge, said in an e-mail interview.

“Many soldiers continue to be able to perform their duties very well despite having significant symptoms,” Hoge wrote. But others show what he called “serious impairment,” and the worse the combat and the longer units are exposed, the worse the effects.

The affliction is as old as war itself.

Eric Dean, an author in Connecticut who specializes in war’s psychological toll, reviewed records from the Civil War for his 1997 book, “Shook Over Hell,” and found the same surge of crime and suicide that Fort Carson has seen.

“They have been in every war,” he said. “They never readjusted. They ended up living alone, drinking too much.”

They were “the lost generation” of World War I. They are the veterans of Vietnam who disproportionately populate homeless shelters and prisons today.

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MEDS FOR PTSD: Soldier with brain injury, treated for PTSD commits suicide

Note: Anyone who has suffered a brain injury should never be given an antidepressant according to Dr. Jay Seastrunk, a neurologist. It can lower the seizure threshold and produce seizure activity faster than normal.

Also keep in mind that antidepressants affect memory so strongly that “amnesia” is listed as a “frequent” side effect. Combine that with the information we have that Alzheimer’s is a condition of elevated serotonin levels and antidepressants are designed to specifically increase serotonin levels and you can see how many of the problems Ray was dealing with we being caused by the medication he was being given.

Dr. Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director, International Coalition for Drug Awareness, www.drugawareness.org
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In the very hours we were celebrating Andrew in Washington, tragedy was unfolding in Texas. Lt. Col. Raymond Rivas, a 53-year old civil affairs officer who had dedicated his career to rebuilding war torn countries, was found dead in his car in the parking lot of Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio Texas.

Colleagues of Ray’s said prescription pills and notes he wrote to his family and wife, Colleen, were found. A military source told me all indications are Ray took his own life.

His devastated family understandably declined to talk publicly, and the military won’t discuss the case citing privacy concerns. But friends and colleagues I spoke to confirmed that Ray had suffered multiple blast injuries to his brain from bomb attacks during several deployments over the years.

In October 2006, Ray survived an attack in Iraq that rendered him briefly unconscious. He was transferred to Europe but somehow talked the doctors into sending him back to the war zone. A week later, ill and confused, he was sent back to the United States.

A close associate tells me that at first, despite being diagnosed with traumatic brain injury in Iraq, some doctors thought Ray might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. They didn’t realize he had all the symptoms of traumatic brain injury. He had trouble talking, reasoning and remembering.

He was sent to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio so he could be near his family, but for the first few months he just sat in his room. Fellow soldiers helped him with his bathing, dressing and eating.

Finally, Ray was assigned a case manager, and things began to move rapidly. He got therapy and was able to go home.

But by all accounts from his friends, Ray had become seriously debilitated by the injuries to his brain. A private email shown to CNN revealed that Ray had been diagnosed with rapidly emerging Alzheimer’s disease. The cumulative impact of all those bomb blasts were destroying his brain. Colleagues say Ray knew he might have to move to an assisted living facility.

Ray’s doctors are not discussing his treatment because of privacy concerns.

A colleague told me Ray was tired and in pain on the night of July 15. He was found in his car in the parking lot at the army hospital where he had spent so long trying to get better.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/07/27/starr.extraordinary/index.html?iref=24hours
Behind the Scenes: Triumph and tragedy for two wounded soldiers

* Story Highlights
* CNN’s Barbara Starr celebrated a victory and mourned a loss on July 15
* An injured Marine was celebrating getting into Harvard Law School
* On same night, a warrior with a traumatic brain injury was found dead in his car
* Men’s stories are linked — both pleaded with the government to aid injured soldiers

By Barbara Starr
CNN Pentagon Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Where were you on the night of July 15? You may not even remember, but for me it was an extraordinary evening, an evening of unimaginable triumph and unbearable tragedy.

But I would not actually know everything that happened until the night was long over.

A couple of weeks before July 15, a friend who works with injured troops emailed me to say it was time for Andrew’s going away party.

Andrew Kinard is a young Marine I first met a few years ago at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington where he was recovering from a devastating IED attack in Iraq. He had stepped on the roadside bomb and lost his entire body below the hips.

The party being arranged was Andrew’s farewell to D.C. Andrew is off to the rigors of Harvard Law School. He’s says he’s itching to get into a courtroom.

You need to remember the name Andrew Kinard. Many of his friends believe Andrew is such an amazing man that he will become president of the United States. If I had to bet, I’d say it could happen.

I wouldn’t have missed the party for the world. I was touched that this tight-knit community of wounded warriors had included me in this very special, very intimate evening.

There was a display of photos of Andrew serving in Iraq. I suddenly realized I never knew how tall he was before the war. There were a few sniffles and wiping of eyes in the room for a Marine whose dream of service to his country ended within a few months of getting to Iraq. But sniffles didn’t last long and the evening became one of hugs, laughter and good wishes (and more than a few beers) for a young Marine who had triumphed over what the war had dealt him.

But my warm feelings didn’t last long. The next day another source in the wounded troop community came to me in the Pentagon hallway with another tale.

“You have to do something about the story of Ray Rivas,” he said.

In the very hours we were celebrating Andrew in Washington, tragedy was unfolding in Texas. Lt. Col. Raymond Rivas, a 53-year old civil affairs officer who had dedicated his career to rebuilding war torn countries, was found dead in his car in the parking lot of Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio Texas.

Colleagues of Ray’s said prescription pills and notes he wrote to his family and wife, Colleen, were found. A military source told me all indications are Ray took his own life.

His devastated family understandably declined to talk publicly, and the military won’t discuss the case citing privacy concerns. But friends and colleagues I spoke to confirmed that Ray had suffered multiple blast injuries to his brain from bomb attacks during several deployments over the years.

In October 2006, Ray survived an attack in Iraq that rendered him briefly unconscious. He was transferred to Europe but somehow talked the doctors into sending him back to the war zone. A week later, ill and confused, he was sent back to the United States.

A close associate tells me that at first, despite being diagnosed with traumatic brain injury in Iraq, some doctors thought Ray might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. They didn’t realize he had all the symptoms of traumatic brain injury. He had trouble talking, reasoning and remembering.

He was sent to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio so he could be near his family, but for the first few months he just sat in his room. Fellow soldiers helped him with his bathing, dressing and eating.

Finally, Ray was assigned a case manager, and things began to move rapidly. He got therapy and was able to go home.

But by all accounts from his friends, Ray had become seriously debilitated by the injuries to his brain. A private email shown to CNN revealed that Ray had been diagnosed with rapidly emerging Alzheimer’s disease. The cumulative impact of all those bomb blasts were destroying his brain. Colleagues say Ray knew he might have to move to an assisted living facility.

Ray’s doctors are not discussing his treatment because of privacy concerns.

A colleague told me Ray was tired and in pain on the night of July 15. He was found in his car in the parking lot at the army hospital where he had spent so long trying to get better.

But Ray will be remembered for all he did for others. Even with all his suffering, he wanted to make sure other injured troops were helped. In April he and his wife Colleen went to Capitol Hill to testify with other wounded warriors about their needs.

Sitting on that panel with Ray was Andrew Kinard.

All AboutBrooke Army Medical Center

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