“The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance”

Thomas Jefferson said,

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

This article below brings to the fore the need for an investigation

into the state of our troops and how PTSD is treated.

I know this does not relate to the initial intent of my blog.

I live with PTSD as many Adult Children of Alcoholics do.

I also consider myself to be a (very left wing) Patriot.

It is our duty as citizens to pay attention;

It is out duty as citizens to stand up for what we feel is right.

The tragedy of the killing of Afghan civilians can not be ignored;

Innocent people died for no reason.

An American soldiers life was also tragically altered.

His life was altered before the massacre and it is forever altered now.

What do we need to do as a country to ensure that this never happens again?

Peace?

Jen

Case of Afghan shooter puts military mental health care under microscope

By Carlo Munoz – 03/24/12 07:15 AM ET

The recent killing of 17 Afghan civilians at the hands of a U.S. soldier has reignited concerns on whether the Pentagon is doing enough to care for its newest generation of combat veterans.

On Friday, the Army officially charged Staff. Sgt. Robert Bales with multiple counts of murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault.

The 38-year old veteran of three combat tours in Iraq is accused of shooting Afghan civilians in a nearby village were his unit was stationed.

He is currently awaiting court martial at the military’s maximum-security facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.Bales’ attorney, John Henry Brown, claims the soldier, who was on his first tour in Afghanistan during the time of the incident, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

However, a pair of Army behavioral health and rehabilitation specialists told reporters Thursday that “the science has not been able to identify” any clear links between PTSD, TBI and violent incidents like the shootings Bales is accused of.

The March 11 incident sent shockwaves across the country and Capitol Hill, prompting many lawmakers to question whether U.S. forces had started to reach the breaking point after a decade of war in Southwest Asia.

At a Wednesday Senate hearing on the Army budget, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) pressed Army officials on how pervasive the cases of PTSD were among U.S. troops returning home from war.

“In light of all the tragedy we’ve seen stemming from untreated invisible wounds of war today, I’m sure you’d agree this is very concerning,” Murray said. “I want to know if it’s system-wide.”

Bales was posted at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Murray’s home state of Washington before his deployment to Afghanistan.

The base has become notorious as the site of a number of violent, high-profile incidents involving soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the hearing, Army Secretary John McHugh assured Murray and other panel members the Army was not suffering from a “systemic” problem of PTSD within its war-weary ranks.

“We don’t see any evidence of this being systemic,” McHugh said. “We want to make sure that . . . it was an isolated case, and if it were not, to make sure we address it . . .  holistically.”

Panel member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went the other way during the hearing, looking to paint Bales’ case as the actions of a rogue solider who had snapped under the pressures of combat.

“This is a severe aberration and does not reflect who our men and women are in terms of their behavior under stress, do you agree with that?” Graham asked McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, who also testified at the hearing.

While both men agreed with Graham’s assessment, McHugh did acknowledge the Army is planning a comprehensive review of its mental health services, specifically focusing on PTSD.

However, the Pentagon does not plan to conduct a similar, department-wide study, but is “fully aware” of McHugh’s planned review, DoD spokesman George Little told reporters on Wednesday.

Addressing issues concerning PTSD and other mental afflictions caused by combat “is a priority for us to look at” inside DoD, Little said, adding the department fully supports the Army’s effort.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) agreed with the department’s decision, saying military officials must avoid any “knee-jerk reactions” concerning military mental health despite recent events.

If the Army study does show a wider review is warranted then that is when action should be taken, he told The Hill on Thursday. Short of that, Congress and the American public should give the service time to do a thorough review, according to Forbes.

The service is already taking steps to improve mental health care on the battlefield, the Army behavioral health specialist told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday.

Army leaders are beginning to attach “embedded behavioral health” teams alongside Army brigade combat teams when they deploy. The healthcare teams are on the front lines with U.S. soldiers and maintain close ties to the ground commanders, the specialist said.

By being embedded, mental health professionals can develop a “habitual relationship” with unit members, in the hopes they will be more willing to seek help from the teams, the specialist said.

In addition, soldiers are screened for possible cases of PTSD five times during any given combat rotation, according to the Army specialist.

Soldiers get three screenings before, during and after a deployment. They are screened again between 90 to 100 days after they return home. A final screening is conducted a year after a soldier’s combat rotation.

American troops are also regularly screened for cases of TBI, an Army rehabilitation specialist said during the same Pentagon briefing.

To date, the Army has screened over 12,000 service personnel for TBI in Iraq and Afghanistan, with “a small percentage” of the troops being actually diagnosed with brain injury. The Army has also built 11 TBI care centers in various parts of Afghanistan, with plans to build another center in the near future.

The specialists refused to comment on the Bales case specifically, but noted he had likely undergone that series of mental health reviews as part of his multiple trips to the war zone.

That said, questions still remain on how Bales could have passed through that intensive screening process without Army officials picking up any signs of trouble.

Critics of the screening system claim soldiers sometimes provide false answers during the screenings, to avoid being separated from their unit and pulled off the front line.

When pressed on the issue, the Army behavioral specialist noted the PTSD screening sessions were “closer to five minutes than half-an-hour.”

However, the face-to-face interviews included in the screenings gives health professionals a good read on a soldier’s mental state, regardless of how long the interviews last.

~ by Step On a Crack on March 26, 2012.

22 Responses to ““The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance””

  1. Our Veterans have a better understanding of TBI than other citizens and healthcare professionals, simply because they deal with the worse case scenarios and obvious problems. They still fall short of taking care of these precious souls! Quite sending these souls back into combat when injured. TBI…mild, moderate or severe has consequences that last a lifetime that can be severe in nature and unmeasurable.

    Like

    • YES!

      I can not for the life of me understand WHY we send any soldier with either a TBI or PTSD back into active duty!
      NO REASON and going back makes BOTH TBI and PTSD far worse.

      Why?

      It is insanity to my way of thinking.

      Thank YOU very much for commenting and adding to this discussion.
      It is still Brain Injury Awareness month: Vets should get top billing…

      thank you… Jen

      Like

  2. Nothing’s priceless…Perhaps it’s Heaven’s Justice on earth!
    peace is a solution yet on a planet born in war; sounds unreachable:(

    Like

    • Dear Mira,

      Thank you for being here…

      Peace; unreachable.
      I hear you. I often view global warming as the Earth’s white blood cells getting rid of the infection that is us: Humans.

      And yet… I spent most of my adult life in the fight to end nuclear proliferation. I devoted the first portion of my adult life to trying to save the planet. As a mom I am now spending this next portion bringing up the next generation who will work to save this planet.

      I can not give up Hope. It is all we have. I am pondering, as my son is ready to begin high school, what the next portion of life will look like. Who will I be? What will I do? I will try to be of use. What that will look like remains to be seen.
      It must contain Hope. Where will I go without it?

      I think Jefferson was right: not just about freedom but about our duty to be eternally vigilant; to stop pain and destruction in its wake if we can….

      Peace? I think so. Some how…

      XO Jen

      Like

      • as long as we’re considering it a solution, we’ll never retreat even if we know that it’s unreachable…
        Peace is The Dream….may it be born one day
        By the way I’m glad to meet such a personality

        Like

      • OK, i’m responding to your comment to Mira J.

        You will rock this world in your next stage … that’s what you’ll do.

        Of use??? Erm, big time. In fact, i see a position for you in the Dept. of Defense Troops’ Care Bill (Project) … you know i’m not a politician, or as knowledgeable as you. Are you ready ??? Love, Mel

        Like

  3. Oh boy does this ever touch a sore spot with me!

    First of all the military dragged their feet acknowledging TBI as a disability for our soldiers returning home. They only did it because of the outcry and the indisputable fact of TBI because of Bob Woodruff’s injury.

    I truly wish I could say our government is ‘by the people for the people’, but it sure seems to be ‘by the people for the almighty dollar, pride, ego, and politics.’

    America has lost her heart.

    TBI is nothing new people! Especially for our war-wounded brothers and sisters. Egads, this is all I can say for now before I blow the rest of my brain budget for the day.

    I’m greatly irked for how our veterans and disabled folks are treated in this country anyway! It is absurd and ‘insane’ to borrow the previous poster’s word. LOL – and I’m the one with the Head Injury? Seriously?!

    Like

    • Dear RH,

      I hear you Sister!

      ‘‘by the people for the almighty dollar, pride, ego, and politics.’

      I think you nail it. The military INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX is running our military. MONEY MONEY MONEY.

      How we can let this happen is beyond me.
      Full disclosure: I am a pacifist. I have been since I was a kid watching the news coming out of Vietnam. I am against these wars in the first place. To bungle them so badly is a whole other problem. To ignore the needs of our troops: a Sin if there is such a thing.

      TBI: right?! If I can figure this stuff out with my TBI and PTSD raging it seems to me the White House, Congress and the Pentagon should be able to also.

      OK morning rant out of the way but the fire will keep a slow burn.

      Thank you very much for adding to this dialog!

      Peace! and I mean it,

      Jen

      Like

      • Thanks for your reply, this is certainly a hot topic and a lot to think about. Thanks for bringing this article to our attention, starting and continuing a dialogue. I’m with you, carrying embers in my heart regarding our treatment of vets and disabled folks. We have a voice! 🙂

        Like

  4. Big yeah, to we Left Wing Patriots!! Whoop whoop

    Like

  5. Yippee! I’m awarding you the Very Inspiring Blogger Award – you deserve it, because you DO inspire me! Go to my post to learn the ‘rules’ & get the badge to display on YOUR blog http://wp.me/p1zocx-18z

    Like

  6. I can’t add anything except amen — we need to take care of our own,.

    Like

  7. Yep, another Amen … :-). Sing it sista! ox m

    Like

  8. […] “The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance” (step-on-a-crack.com) Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

    Like

  9. “I can not give up Hope. It is all we have. I am pondering, as my son is ready to begin high school, what the next portion of life will look like. Who will I be? What will I do? I will try to be of use. What that will look like remains to be seen.
    It must contain Hope. Where will I go without it?

    I think Jefferson was right: not just about freedom but about our duty to be eternally vigilant; to stop pain and destruction in its wake if we can….”
    I dropped by your blog this night desperately looking for inspiration and found it in a response to a comment. Thank you!!!

    Like

    • Maiya,

      Oh my Friend! It does my heart good to know that this reached you when you needed it! YOU just gave me what I needed too.

      Friendship.
      Blessings abound!

      Love to you, Jen

      Like

  10. Gut wrenching…

    Like

  11. I love your intriguing post. topnotch stuff. I hope you write others. I will continue watching

    Like

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