Sent Back to Iraq on Prozac After Attempting Suicide
Another Fight: Surviving PTSD In The Army
My name is Dawn Marie. I am the spouse of a Active Duty U.S. Army Soldier who suffers from PTSD, currently serving in Iraq. (Here is the link to the blog Dawn has set up to get her and her husbands story out—another example of the military eating another one of its own) And this is our story:
On August 2003, my husband returned from Iraq to Ft. Stewart after a 9 month deployment in support of OIF. He came home, not only with the experience of his first trip into combat, but with the haunting effects of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). This was only the beginning of watching the effects control his life.
By October 2003 , he was already on his second DUI, suffering at work, and drinking until he passed out so that he wouldn't be able to remember the nightmares.
By March 2004, he had undergone the course for alcohol treatment, served his punishment for his DUI's and regained his SPC promotion.
In October 2004, he asked his Superiors and Chaplain for help. The nightmares, paranoia, mood swings, and emotional numbness just for starters were all to much for him to be able to handle. While at the same time be trying to prepare for yet another deployment. This cry for help went unanswered and ignored.
By November 2004 I had watched my husband deteriorate to a point that I stepped in and went to Chaplains and Superior Officers myself. To get the response of "We will look into it".
December 2004 came and went and my husband did as well. He was distant and detached from myself and his children, as well as friends and other members of our family. He was angry, mad, sad, depressed all in a matter of an hour. He was pacing looking out windows thinking someone was trying to get us. The nightmares had worsened to the point of him trying to drag me out of bed by my feet, until the realization kicked in as to who I was. All while the Army did nothing. Nothing, pro anyhow. They did plenty that was counter-productive to the welfare and mental health of their Soldiers though.
One instance of that being, my husband's Plt. Sgt. (never having gone to combat) stated to him, that "He was going to put him on guard, with no ammo or vest" That "he would send him out without a weapon to pat down the "bad guy with the grenade." All the things that could only worsen the effects of PTSD, was the Army willing to do.
January 2, 2005 I made yet another phone call to the Chaplain, asking for help. This time I TOLD HIM that my husband had extreme signs of being suicidal. He yet again said " I will look into it". But again, nothing came of it. I also went to the 3rd Infantry Division Command Sgt. Major myself, and asked him to check into the treatment of the Soldiers by this Pltn, and to check into help for my husband. I re-iterated to him as well the fact that I felt my husband was suicidal. Again, nothing happened. Except a lot of harsh comments to my husband for letting his spouse take this "crap" to the Division.
January 7, 2005 my husband tried to commit suicide, he almost succeeded. I found him laying in the bathroom, out from aprox. 40 plus percocets. He told us, " I would rather die at home with my family, then deploy with these people to let them get me killed". He went to the Emergency Room, had his stomach pumped, a couple charcoal treatments and other tests. We were there for the day. While he was still out of it, much of it. The Doctor said if I had found him 10 minutes later, it would have been 5 too late.
While my emotions are swirling, my husband is half dead and there is a plane waiting on him, the only response from the Army was "get him to a Army hospital and out of the civilian world." The had no care, for the reason he did this or his state. Only to get him out of the civilian essayed for it's bad press.
An NCO came that night and took my husband to the Army hospital, where his Commander deposited him into the mental ward, all the while not even letting me tell my husband bye. Just telling me to "get out" I can't stay. When I try to call and check on him or find out what is going on, Im told "We have no Soldier by that name." I was not allowed any information on my husband. It was not until the next day, after pressing phone calls from the press, was I allowed to go and see him.
10 January 2005 he was taken from the mental ward by a NCO from his company. This NCO was to bring him to our home. He was to pick up his gear for Iraq and to return to the mental ward. He was to deploy in 3 days. He was not allowed to stay at home with him wife and children until that time. He could see them from 1800-2000 for the next 3 nights and that was all. After coming to the realization that the Army was not going to help him, just throw him on a plane. He ran. He went AWOL, for a period of 9 days.
During the period that he was AWOL, he stayed in contact with his Rear Detachment Commander, continuously asking for help. Stating he felt that he couldn't make it thru another deployment without help first. He asked for mental health treatment prior to being made to deploy. The Commander acted like he was willing to help. He said to come back, they would get him help.
19 January 2005 he returned himself to Ft. Stewart and to his Commander. When we arrived at his office, he told David that he was restricted to the barracks and to post. He was also sent to the mental ward to determine if he was still suicidal and should be put back on suicide watch. This was time to be counted as served when his punishment for AWOL came up. He served a total of 13 days in the barracks, before being released to stay at home until he deployed. He was given appointments with mental health. He was then re-diagnosed with Combat Stress Disorder with Anxiety/PTSD. He was told by his counselor that he needed 5 weeks in a program for PTSD that she holds. This meant he would need to stay stateside until April 2005. The counselor called David's Commander and notified him of what she felt he needed. About a week later, we were told he would deploy in 2 weeks on 15 March 2005, without the treatment.
2 March 2005 David was given a Company Grade Article 15 for AWOL. He had to serve 7 days extra duty, 7 days restriction and suspension of loss of rank for 3 months. He had already served this time before even being punished officially. He was also guaranteed not to have to deploy to the same unit in which he had been with. Due to differences that could only cause him more harm.
19 March 2005 David packed the truck with his gear. He gave the kids the goodbye hugs and kisses and a "I'll see you soon" and headed out the door for the brigade. He deployed at 1900 that night from HAAF, Georgia. To meet up with his Company in Iraq.
This is only the beginning of our journey: More to come in Chapter 2...
Dawn may be contacted thru her blog: http://www.asoldiersbattle.blogspot.com/