Archive | Veterans

PTSD Soldier Punished by Army

Iraq war veteran Eric Jasinski, after seeking treatment for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is being punished by the Army.

Jasinski turned himself in to the Army late last year, after having gone absent without leave (AWOL) in order to seek help for his PTSD. Help, he told Truthout, he was not receiving from the Army, even after requesting assistance on multiple occasions.

He was court-martialed and jailed for 25 days for having gone AWOL, during which time he was escorted in shackles to therapy sessions for his PTSD. After being released from prison, he was informed that he would be given an other-than-honorable discharge, which means he is likely ineligible for full PTSD treatment from the Veterans’ Administration (VA) after he leaves the service.

Jasinski enlisted in the military in 2005, and deployed to Iraq in October 2006 as an intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army. He collected intelligence in order to put together strike packets – where air strikes would take place.

Upon his return to the U.S. after his tour, Jasinski was suffering from severe PTSD due to what he did and saw in Iraq, along with remorse and guilt for the work he did that he knows contributed to the loss of life in Iraq.

“What I saw and what I did in Iraq caused my PTSD,” Jasinski, 23-years-old, told Truthout during a phone interview. “Also, I lost a good friend in Iraq, and I went through a divorce – she left right before I deployed – and my grandmother passed away when I was over there, so it was all super rough on me.”

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US Navy Veterans Continue to Seek Justice for Israeli Attack

Damage to USS Liberty, June 1967. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Damage to USS Liberty, June 1967. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Israeli military has attacked a flotilla of international peace activists, killing as many as 19 innocent civilians while they were carrying ten tons of aid to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. This is not the first time the Israeli military has attacked a nonthreatening entity in international waters.

On June 8, 1967, while sailing in international waters, the US Navy intelligence ship USS Liberty was attacked by air and naval forces of the state of Israel. Of the Liberty’s crew of 294, more than half were killed or wounded. More than 40 years later, survivors are still seeking justice.

The Israeli forces attacked with full knowledge that the Liberty was an American ship, yet survivors have been forbidden to tell their story under oath to the American public.

Joe Meadors was on the Liberty during the attack.

“I watched some jets pass us then turn left after they passed our ship, then they started strafing [attacking repeatedly with bombs or machine-gun fire from low-flying aircraft] us,” Meadors told Truthout.

“The attack lasted 90 minutes, during which we got a message off to the 6th fleet asking for assistance, and we learned later, Joe Tully, commanding officer of the USS Saratoga, launched aircraft within minutes of the attack, but he told us later they were recalled before they reached the horizon. We found this out 20 years after the attack.”

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Soldier Jailed for Rap Lyrics Is Discharged

Army Spc. Marc Hall, jailed for writing a song protesting the stop-loss policy, was discharged Sunday morning. (Photo: Courage to Resist; Edited: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t)

Army Spc. Marc Hall, jailed for writing a song protesting the stop-loss policy, was discharged Sunday morning. (Photo: Courage to Resist; Edited: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t)

Until April 17, US Army Spc. Marc Hall sat in a military brig at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, facing an imminent court-martial for challenging the US military’s stop-loss policy in a song.

Sunday morning, Spc. Hall was granted a discharge by the military.

On December 17, 2009, Hall was jailed for writing a song about the personal impact of being forced to remain in the military beyond the scope of his contract by the stop-loss policy.

Stop-loss is a practice that allows the Army to keep soldiers active beyond the end of their signed contracts. According to the Pentagon, more than 120,000 soldiers have been affected by stop-loss since 2001, and currently 13,000 soldiers are serving under stop-loss orders, despite public pledges by President Barack Obama to phase out the policy.

Hall’s song included lyrics the Army claimed were veiled threats of violence.

He was charged with five specifications in violation of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Conduct, two of those for wrongfully communicating a threat based on song lyrics. Article 134 is a vague rule that outlaws anything “to the prejudice of good order and discipline.”

Lyrics included Hall saying he may “go Fort Hood,” a reference to the mass shooting at Fort Hood on November 5, which prosecutors for the Army claimed was a threat of violence.

“I explained to [my first sergeant] that the hardcore rap song was a free expression of how people feel about the Army and its stop-loss policy,” Hall said at the time. “I explained that the song was neither a physical threat nor any threat whatsoever. I told him it was just hip-hop.”

According to Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist, an Oakland-based organization dedicated to supporting military objectors like Hall, he was not jailed for the song, but was instead jailed “in retaliation for his formal complaint of inadequate mental health services available to him at Fort Stewart. The Army used an angry song that Spc. Hall, a combat veteran of the Iraq War suffering from post-traumatic stress, had produced criticizing the stop-loss policy as the pretext.” Continue Reading →

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Iraq Vets: Coverage of Atrocities Is Too Little, Too Late

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: Spc. Jeffery Sandstrum / U.S. Army, thomas.merton)

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: Spc. Jeffery Sandstrum / U.S. Army, thomas.merton)

The WikiLeaks video footage from Iraq taken from an Apache helicopter in July 2007 showing soldiers killing 12 people and wounding two children has caused an explosion of media coverage. But many Iraq vets feel it is too little and too late.

In contrast to most of the coverage that favors the military’s stated position of forgiving the soldiers responsible and citing that they followed the Rules of Engagement (ROE), Iraq war veterans who have spoken to the media previously about atrocities carried out against innocent Iraqis have largely been ignored by the mainstream media in the United States.

This includes Josh Steiber, a former US Army specialist who was a member of the Bravo Company 2-16 whose acts of brutality made headlines with the WikiLeaks release of the video “Collateral Murder.”

Steiber told Truthout during a telephone interview on Sunday that such acts were “not isolated incidents” and were “common” during his tour of duty. “After watching the video, I would definitely say that that is, nine times out of ten, the way things ended up,” Steiber was quoted as saying in an earlier press release on the video, “Killing was following military protocol. It was going along with the rules as they are.”

Steiber was not with his unit, who were the soldiers on the ground in the video. He was back at his base with the incident occurred. While not absolving of responsibility those who carried out the killing, Steiber blames the “larger system” of the US military, specifically how soldiers are trained to dehumanize Iraqis and the ROE.

“We have to address the larger system that trains people to respond in this way, or the same thing will probably happen again,” Steiber told Truthout.

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