Army court martials soldier with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
From the WBI 2000 survey of hostile workplaces (Workplace Bullying Institute, online, non-scientific survey) 30% of women targets of bullying reported symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); 21% of men targets. Psychological injuries are common in bullying cases.
Fortunately, most people experience intense anxiety, panic attacks, and depressive symptoms rather than the extreme case of traumatization when an individual’s coping responses are completely overwhelmed. PTSD is extreme stress. PTSD is characterized by hypervigilance (an edginess, heightened arousal, agitation, obsessivness, and anger), intrusive thoughts (nightmares, flashbacks, unpredictable interruptions of normal thoughts and feelings), and avoidance (a desire to not visit the same people, places and feelings associated with the traumatizing incidents). PTSD is falsely seen only as a war injury. People are traumatized by the horrors of war (killing and death, witnessed and perpetrated), but also by natural disasters and tragedies the disrupt routine lives.
People who join the military are especially at risk. All trauma and stress risks are magnified with unremitting, prolonged exposure to horrific conditions. It is noteworthy that Britain and Canada treats their military veterans more humanely than the U.S. To minimize the ravages of PTSD, tours of duty are shorter than one year and there is a limit to the amount of uninterrupted time that soldiers and sailors can spend in a war zone. American military leaders have been less caring. Though they sometimes publicly remark that the troops are worn out, “stop-loss” is used to deny the rightful end of contracted military time for soldiers eager to return to non-military society. Stop-loss is an exploitation of the government’s power to make its own rules as employer, not subject to any civilian laws. Stop-loss guarantees an over-exposure to horror that no human should have to bear. It is instrumental in creating the estimated 30-45% prevalence of PTSD among Iraq/Afghanistan veteran. When they can’t escape to healing respite back home, the likelihood of injury skyrockets.
Psychiatrist Dr. Kernan Manion treated traumatized Marine vets and warned his superiors of violence potential on bases and in neighboring towns. “If not more Fort Hoods, Camp Liberties, soldier fratricide, spousal homicide, we’ll see it individually in suicides, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, family dysfunction, in formerly fine young men coming back and saying, as I’ve heard so many times, ‘I’m not cut out for society. I can’t stand people. I can’t tolerate commotion. I need to live in the woods,’” Manion explained to reporter Dahr Jamail. “That’s what we’re going to have. Broken, not contributing, not functional members of society. It infuriates me – what they are doing to these guys, because it’s so ineptly run by a system that values rank and power more than anything else – so we’re stuck throwing money into a fragmented system of inept clinics and the crisis goes on.”
In 2007, Joshua Kors reported on the Army mental health corps’ refusal to own the responsibility for injuring veterans with PTSD (and even some with physical traumatic brain injuries). Instead of making the correct PTSD diagnosis for those vets so they could receive VA health benefits for long-term medication and treatment, some Army psychologists were deliberately labeling the injured as having personality disorders. A personality disorder is a permanent mental health problem, not an injury, and must have begun in childhood. Also the deceitful misdiagnosis prevented vets from VA benefit eligibility. Thus, the Department of Defense, as employer, put its employees in harms way, many are injured as a result, then the employer dodges liability by blaming the employee.
Substitute DoD with the name of your employer. You get hired to perform work and are assigned a supervisor or gang of co-workers who decide that it is more important to bully you than to allow you to do work. You seek relief. The employer denies its responsibility for the work conditions that have begun to harm you psychologically. If you do not escape and the exposure continues, the stress takes its toll on your health. When threats to your safety are severe, you risk PTSD. You find a therapist who correctly identifies your toxic workplace — the mistreating people in it as well as the way work is assigned with no regard for your safety or professional development — as the cause of the severe stress. You beg for relief but are not believed. Soon you lose the job you once loved for no reason other than the fact that some jackass arbitrarily hated you, most likely because your competence posed a threat.
Now from the military comes another tale of terror. Reporter Dahr Jamail posted his essay at the Truthout website. He writes about Eric Jasinski, a 23 year old who enlisted in 2005. Jasinski’s Iraq tour ended in Dec., 2007. He was troubled and drinking heavily. A military counselor sent him to a civilian doc. He was diagnosed with PTSD by the civilian. He was given medications and waiting for his military contract to end in Feb., 2009.
However, the Army stop-lossed Jasinski and he was given a month’s notice that he would return to Iraq. The military pharmacy issued a 90-day supply of medication. Another military counselor asked if he was suicidal. Jasinski said no. The hurried counselor said “well, you’re good to go then.” Jasinski knew that he could not serve again without treating his PTSD, so he went AWOL until Dec., 2009 when he turned himself in at Fort Hood, Texas. Jasinski asked for a medical discharge.
Instead, he had a March 31, 2010 court martial. He was sentenced to 30 days in the county jail, not a mental health facility as requested. The Army never did respond to his requests for help. He served 25 days and was released on April 24. Then, unilaterally without discussion or negotiation, the Army notified Jasinski that he would receive an “other-than-honorable” discharge that translates to permanent denial of VA benefits for the wounded soldier.
To better put in perspective the humiliation the Army heaped on this PTSD victim, read Jasinski’s personal statement written while in the Bell County jail.
“When I am taken out of jail back to Fort Hood for any appointments I am led around in handcuffs and ankle shackles in front of crowds of soldiers… which is overwhelming on my mind. My guilt from treating prisoners in Iraq sub-human and I did things to them and watched my unit do cruel actions against prisoners, so being humiliated like that forces me to fall into the dark spiral of guilt. I now know what it feels like to have no rights and have people stare and judge based on your shackles and I feel even more like a monster cause I used to do this to Iraqi people. Even worse is the fact that this boils down to the military failing to treat my PTSD but I am being punished for it… I feel as if I am being a threat to others or myself and still the Army mental health professional blow me off just like in 2009 when I felt like I had no choice but to go AWOL, since I received a 5 minute mental evaluation and was stop-lossed despite my PTSD, and was told that they could do nothing for me. The insufficient mental evaluation from a doctor I had never seen before, combined with the insufficient actions by the doctor on 9 April show the Army is not trying to make progress.”
Feel familiar? Neither did you do anything to warrant the banishment from your livelihood. Employers can do anything they want. PTSD victims are not whining delicate “teacups” like attorney Scott Greenfield suggests.
Gary Namie, PhD
What you can do:
Read the Dahr Jamail article
Help the Iraq Veterans Against the War work for the proper and necessary treatment injured soldiers
Thank Eric Jasinski’s civilian attorney, James Branum
Read Joshua Kors groundbreaking report on abusive Army psychologists and psychiatrists
Tell Scott Greenfield his “teacups” smear is a cheap shot by a bullying attorney
http://stoppersonalitydisorder.com/U.S. Army - Dishonorable Employer