Afghanistan & Iraq Vets Call for End to Deployment of Traumatized Troops

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IVAW – Operation Recovery

Veterans Today has already published several articles about the likelihood that military commanders in dire need of warriors in combat are sending wounded warriors back into combat and multiple deployments who are not fit.

Sign the Petition for Operation Recovery – STOP deploying injured troops!

Military Families join Operation Recovery: Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops.

Help IVAW reach 2,000 signatures for Operation Recovery

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) in conjunction with other progressive leaning Veterans and Military family groups has been planning Operation Recovery and now IVAW is ready to publicly release details of their campaign.

ROBERT L. HANAFIN, Major, U.S. Air Force-Ret, GS-14, U.S. Civil Service-Ret, Veterans Issues Editor, Veterans Today News Network

Afghanistan & Iraq Vets Call for End to Deployment of Traumatized Troops

Veterans launch historic campaign on 9-year anniversary of Afghanistan War





Press Release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 6, 2010

WASHINGTON DC – On October 7th, the 9-year anniversary of the Afghanistan War, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) will launch a national veteran-led campaign to end the military’s widespread practice of deploying wounded troops into war zones.

Operation Recovery: Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops will focus on ending the practice of deploying service members suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

Veterans from both the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, including many with personal experience being deployed while wounded, will participate in the campaign launch Thursday. Starting at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (9:15am across from 7123 Georgia Ave.) veterans will hold a ceremony for all those wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to be followed by a six-mile march to Capitol Hill. (1:30pm at Russell Senate Office Building, Constitution Ave NE, and Delaware Ave. NE) Veterans will testify about their experiences with redeployment and announce the launch of Operation Recovery. A letter will be read aloud before being delivered to military and government officials demanding an end to the practice of deploying traumatized service members. In the upcoming weeks, IVAW plans to publicly identify and target responsible officials.

“As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I was redeployed into combat while still recovering from an IED explosion,” said Zach Choate, an Army veteran who was wounded in Iraq in October of 2006. “It is absolutely unacceptable for the government to keep redeploying wounded and traumatized troops and we will make sure that this egregious practice stops.” Choate will be traveling from Georgia to participate in the campaign launch.

Multiple deployments increase cases of PTSD, which makes veterans six times more likely to commit suicide.

The war in Afghanistan is the longest ongoing war in U.S. history, and as it enters its ninth year, the military is exhausted from fighting two ongoing occupations. Many of those being deployed to Afghanistan in President Obama’s latest surge have already seen combat multiple times. Sgt. Lance Vogeler was killed in Afghanistan on Oct. 1st on his 12th combat tour of the War on Terror. Multiple deployments increase cases of PTSD, which makes veterans six times more likely to commit suicide. (see reference i below)

Last year, 239 soldiers killed themselves, and 1,713 soldiers survived suicide attempts,146 soldiers died from high-risk activities, including 74 drug overdoses. (see reference ii below) A third of returning troops report mental health problems, and 18.5 percent of all returning service members are battling either PTSD or depression, according to a study by the Rand Corporation. Recently, four decorated combat vets committed suicide in a single week at Ft. Hood, prompting Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to state the issue of soldier suicides is his top priority. (see reference iii below) IVAW asserts that those who are deploying troops with mental health issues are responsible for such alarming statistics.

“I was denied treatment for the mental and physical wounds I sustained in battle, like so many others,” says a veteran whose unit was shown in the “Collateral Murder” video distributed by Wikileaks. “This campaign is critical for soldiers because we are asserting our right to heal. Now, the government has a choice – will it recognize our right to heal, or continue to deny it?”

Iraq Veterans Against the War intends to fight this battle until policy changes and veterans receive proper care. Operation Recovery supports service members pursuing their right to heal from trauma caused by military service. As the Afghanistan War stretches on and its objectives remain questionable to many, IVAW reflects a growing opposition to the war from within the ranks.

“The Afghanistan War is an abject failure, except to the corporations that profit from it. The trillions spent on these occupations could better be used to lift Americans out of a recession. These policies reflect bipartisan disregard for civilians and service members alike,” says Maggie Martin, Iraq War Vet.  “The best thing to do is bring the troops home now and start a process of healing our country.”

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Media Advisory:

WHO: Iraq Veterans Against the War (Afghanistan & Iraq vets), Ethan McCord of Wikileaks “Collateral Murder” video, Civilian Soldier Alliance, Military Families Speak Out

WHEN/WHERE: Thursday, October 7th, 2010
9:15 Meet at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, across from 7123 Georgia Ave. NW, Washington DC 20307
10:00 March begins
1:30 Press conference at Russell Senate Office Building, Constitution Ave NE, and Delaware Ave. NE Washington DC 20510

VISUALS: Ceremony for wounded troops, veterans marching, uniforms, banners, signs, ceremony for wounded troops, press conference, Walter Reed
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(i) TIME article featuring IVAW member Ethan McCord: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2008886,00.html

(ii) Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, Suicide Prevention: http://usarmy.vo.llnwd.net/e1/HPRRSP/HP-RR-SPReport2010_v00.pdf

(iii) TIME Blog: http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2010/09/30/top-general-military-suicides-will-keep-rising/

RELATED STORIES:

Army Times: Vets shred uniforms to heal through art http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/08/ap_combatart_080609/

VETERANS TODAY EDITORIAL COMMENT: As Admiral Mullen was forced to state that active duty Soldier suicides was his top priority after four decorated U.S. Army combat vets committed suicide at Fort Hood, Texas Major. C. Alan Hopewell an Army neuropsychologist and head of the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at Fort Hood was giving an unauthorized Army public affairs interview to the media stating that “the PTSD diagnosis is abused and overused.”

One such interview was done by Major Hopewell to the Associated Press, and despite no official clearance from Army Public Affairs at Ft. Hood this rumor and Major Hopewell’s views are still is being disseminated to or by the media on behalf of anti-PTSD benefit proponents.

As an Army neuropsychologist and head of the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at Fort Hood, Texas, Major. C. Alan Hopewell was quoted telling the Associated Press (AP) that the PTSD diagnosis is “abused and overused.” Where was Major Hopewell when Major Nidal Malik Hasan went on a shooting spree at the Soldier Readiness Center that left 12 soldier killed?

If reader’s believe Major Hopewell’s claims that PTSD is not as big a problem as active duty troops claim it to be then Major Hasan must have been a figment of everyone’s imagination!!!

In a biased anti-PTSD Associated Press article, Hopewell explained that of the thousands of troops he saw as part of the 785th Medical Company (Combat Stress Control) in Iraq, only about a third had genuine PTSD. The others had either “general adjustment problems” or were reacting to troubles on the home front, such as marital or financial issues.” However, is Major Hopewell’s views an official Pentagon or U.S. Army view. We at Veterans Today highly doubt it.

The political views of military medical officers supposedly put in place to (1) send troops back into combat as their prime directive, and (2) supposedly in charge of ensuring troops get treated for PTSD or TBI just does not jive with the number of active duty troop suicides at Major Hopewell’s base and under his medical command. Major Hopewell’s political views also do not jive with reports from Rand and official Army figures and concerns about PTSD and suicide. Thus, people like Major Hopewell will ensure that battle field commanders have as many combat troops as possible regardless if the have PTSD or not.  This is what IVAW Operation Recovery is intended to prevent the deployment or multiple deployment of Wounded Warriors.

Author Details
Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I’ve posted on Veterans Today, I’ve had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner. My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me. Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000. I’ve been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I’m now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house. I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.
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