Posts Tagged ‘jared hagemann’
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, The Wars in the Middle East
This is the third of a series of posts highlighting the important work of the veteran owned and operated GI coffeehouse movement. Coffee Strong at Fort Lewis is continuing their September fundraising drive, as they are well-short of their $20,000 goal. In addition to providing desperately needed GI support, GI coffeehouses remain one of the strongest and consistent voices in the antiwar movement. Please go to http://www.coffeestrong.org/ and donate generously. Under the Hood at Fort Hood http://www.underthehoodcafe.org/ equally deserves your support.
Sending troops to war on psychotropic medication (as I describe in my last post) is an absolute violation of basic health and military standards. GIs on psychoactive medication place the lives and welfare of their fellow servicemen at risk, which is the main reason official Pentagon policy has always forbidden it. In 2009, the Senate Armed Services Committee response to this outrage was to “study” it. At the conclusion of their investigation into GI suicides (http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2009_hr/suicide.pdf), they commissioned the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to “study” the percentage of combat personnel on psychotropic medication. After two years, it’s clear from the NIMH website (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/suicide-prevention-studies/the-making-of-army-starrs-an-overview.shtml) that the federal agency has made very little progress. They blame this on “confidentiality” issues that allow servicemen to opt out of the study.
High Level Bureaucratic Obfuscation
The whole process is classic bureaucratic obfuscation (definition: to make so confused or opaque as to be impossible to understand). If the Senate Armed Services Committee were genuine in their desire to end the deployment of medicated troops, they could have ordered (subpoenaed) the Department of Defense to turn their pharmacy and psychiatric records over to NIMH. The Pentagon, which rightly views the health of troops as a matter of national security, routinely overrules patient confidentiality for any number of reasons. Likewise the Senate could have enacted legislation ordering Obama to halt the deployment of troops on psychotropics. They chose to do neither.
They also decided against enacting legislation forbidding the deployment of troops with PTSD and other psychiatric disorders. Instead they issued a report expressing the “strong expectation” that the Pentagon would screen servicemen for PTSD prior to sending them to the front line. While the Pentagon claims to have improved their screening of new recruits, there seems to be no change in their practice of redeploying the 20-30% of troops who developing PTSD and other mental health problems as a result of combat.
Thus in June 2011, Staff Sergeant Jared Hageman, who was hospitalized for PTSD in the psychiatric unit of Madigan Army Hospital at Fort Lewis, was ordered redeployed to Afghanistan for the ninth time – and shot himself in the head (http://www.coffeestrong.org/).
Fast Forward to March 2011
In March 2011, the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee held more hearings (http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20100608_2900.php), specifically around the scandalous practice of deploying US troops on mind altering psychotropic medication. Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland) quoted internal Army studies showing that 12% of troops in Iraq and 17% in Afghanistan had been prescribed antidepressants, sleeping pills or the antipsychotic Seroquel. The studies he cited revealed that as of early 2011, 5% of troops were still taking psychotropic medication.
The DOD: Breaching Their Own Guidelines
All antipsychotics are associated with extreme sedation, dizziness and cloudy judgment. Yet according to Army Surgeon General Eric Schoemaker, although US Central Command (CENTCOM) policy prohibits the use of the antipsychotic Seroquel to treat deploying troops with psychotic conditions, it does permit troops to use it as a sleep aid. This is in clear violation of the 2006 “Policy Guidance for Deployment Limiting Psychiatric Conditions and Medications,” issued by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. The latter explicitly prohibits the deployment of troops taking medication for chronic insomnia. With good reason, as Seroquel has been implicated in the deaths of two Marines who died in their sleep after taking large doses.
It also came out in the March hearings that CENTCOM allows troops who deploy to combat a 180 day supply of psychotropic medication – followed by a 180-day refill in the field. Col. John Stasinos, chief of addiction medicine for the Army surgeon general, and Col. Carol Labadie, pharmacy program manager for the surgeon general, defends this practice: “For soldiers on long term psychotropic medication, running out and not taking the medications can be as dangerous as taking too much.”
CENTCOM Can’t Track Prescriptions (they claim)
In response to questioning, Army Surgeon General Eric Schoemaker was unable to produce exact figures for the number of troops taking psychotropics (http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20110303_5243.php?oref=topstory). Shoemaker claims that the defense department – owing to inadequate funding – has no way of tracking the prescriptions they issue – either at the pharmacy level or in the AHLTA electronic health records of individual servicemen. His testimony, if true, totally violates basic standards of record keeping essential for good (and safe) medical care. It also has extremely dire implications for health outcomes of GIs treated by military doctors.
To be continued.
by stuartbramhall in Challenging the Corporate Media, The Wars in the Middle East
(This is the first of a series of posts highlighting the work of the veteran owned and operated GI coffeehouse movement. Coffee Strong at Fort Lewis is continuing their September fundraising drive, as they are well-short of their $20,000 goal. In addition to providing desperately needed GI support, GI coffeehouses continue to be the strongest and consistent voice in the antiwar movement. Please go to http://www.coffeestrong.org/ and donate generously. Under the Hood at Fort Hood http://www.underthehoodcafe.org/ equally deserves your support.)
It’s easy for the average American to forget the US is still at war in at least seven countries (that we know of). Except for periodic suicide bombings and accidental strikes on wedding parties, the mainstream media prefers to focus on the romances and pregnancies of Hollywood stars and, recently, the trial of Michael Jackson’s personal physician. The corporate media dutifully reports on the death of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq – 6,242 as of 9/30/11 (The Military Times http://militarytimes.com/valor/index.php). Despite the refusal of the corporate media to report the civilian death toll of the Wars in the Middle East, the Lancet and John Pilger and other investigative journalists have made major inroads in publicizing the devastating impact this carnage has had on ordinary Afghan and Iraqi families.
Sending Troops to the Front Line on Mind Altering Medication
Sadly there are other important victims in this permanent war on terror who receive virtually no attention in either the mainstream or “alternative” media. I’m referring to the large number of American troops suffering severe and repeated psychological trauma owing to their callous treatment by the Department of Defense. Headlines pop up once or twice a year about the misguided Pentagon policy of redeploying servicemen to Iraq and Afghanistan with combat-related traumatic brain injury (TBI), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and clinical depression and are quickly forgotten.
In 2009 there were Congressional hearings following the revelation that more American troops were dying from suicide than combat (http://www.coffeestrong.org/). During the hearings, it came out that servicemen were returning stateside to be hospitalized for TBI, PTSD and depression; started on antidepressants and antipsychotics; and redeployed to Iraq and Afghanistan – many while still on medication. It also came out that commanding officers frequently overrode the recommendation of treating psychiatrists that patients not be redeployed.
High Stress Guerrilla and Urban Warfare
The guerrilla and urban warfare in the Middle East is more similar to the Vietnam War than earlier conflicts in which opposing troops squared off along a distinct front line. Confronting an enemy who can spring up out of nowhere and is often indistinguishable from the civilian population requires the combatant to assume an extreme attitude of vigilance over long periods of time. During Vietnam, the Pentagon recognized the extreme disruption in sleep, appetite and other biological rhythms resulted from extended periods of heightened mental arousal state. After a few weeks in this state, most people find they can’t shut the anxiety and stress off at night and begin to complain of insomnia. For many the heightened vigilance and mental arousal persists after troops leave the battlefield, resulting in the condition known as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Effect of Civilian Atrocities
The large number of civilian atrocities in the Middle East also take their toll on servicemen. A number of troops hospitalized for PTSD and combat-related depression report witnessing and/or participating in attacks on women and children. This is clear from the heart-breaking testimonials GIs and Marines gave at the 2008 Winter Soldier Conference (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjQxMBacLBE and http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/03/ap_wintersoldier_031508/)
According to his widow, flashbacks of civilian atrocities featured prominently in Staff Sergeant Jared Hagemann’s illness. In 2009 Hagemann received a diagnosis of PTSD on the psychiatric unit of Madigan Army Hospital at Fort Lewis. On June 28, 2011 he shot himself in the head, rather than return to Afghanistan for his ninth deployment (http://www.coffeestrong.org/).
To be continued.