PTSD Combat is no longer being updated.

Find Ilona blogging at Magyar Etimológia and Etymartist.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Another Fort Drum Soldier, AWOL to Seek PTSD Care, Arrested

From the Associated Press:

A soldier who served two combat tours in Iraq was arrested Wednesday for leaving the Army without permission more than a year ago to seek treatment for post traumatic stress disorder.

At a news conference hours before his arrest, Sgt. Brad Gaskins said he left the base in August 2006 because the Army wasn't providing effective treatment after he was diagnosed with PTSD and severe depression. "They just don't have the resources to handle it, but that's not my fault," Gaskins said.

Tod Ensign, an attorney with Citizen Soldier, a GI rights group that is representing Gaskins, said the case is part of a "coming tsunami" of mental health problems involving Iraq and Afghanistan vets. Last month, the Veterans Administration said more than 100,000 soldiers were being treated for mental health problems, and half of those specifically for PTSD.

In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.

Continuing:

Gaskins, 25, of East Orange, N.J., was taken into custody at a Watertown cafe by civilian police officers from Fort Drum and two local police officers, Ensign said. The lawyer said he had been on the phone with military prosecutors working out the details of Gaskins' surrender when the soldier was arrested. ...

An eight-year Army veteran, Gaskins served two tours in Iraq and a peacekeeping tour in Kosovo. He said his mental health began deteriorating during his second tour in Iraq, which began in June 2005, when his job was to conduct road searches and locate improvised explosive devices.

He said after returning to Fort Drum in February 2006, he began suffering flashbacks and nightmares, headaches, sleeplessness, weight loss and mood swings that took him from depression to irrational rages. Military doctors sent him to the Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown, where he spent two weeks and was diagnosed with PTSD. When he later asked his commanders about returning to Samaritan, they told him it would delay any chance he had at obtaining a medical release, Gaskins said.

At the time, the Fort Drum mental health facility had a staff of a dozen caring for approximately 17,000 troops, Ensign said. Gaskins said that because he had been unable to get proper help, he requested a two-week leave and went home to New Jersey, where he has been living since. The base has expanded its mental health facility staff to 31 in the past year, with plans to add another 17 staffers, Abel said. "Is there a need for more — yes," he said.

Gaskins said he hasn't been able to get a job because of his PTSD, and that he and his wife have separated. He said he has only supervised visitation rights with his two children.

Citizen Soldier previously represented Spc. Eugene Cherry, another Fort Drum soldier who had faced a court-martial and a bad conduct discharge after going AWOL to get treatment. The Army softened its stance and gave Cherry a general discharge in July.

Cherry and Gaskins are far from the only soldiers who've gone AWOL in order to seek care for PTSD. Two others quickly come to mind: Jacob Hounshell and Suzanne Swift.

How many others are there?


Related Posts

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
Want to stay connected? You can subscribe to PTSD Combat via Feedburner or follow Ilona on Twitter.
Later/Newer Posts Previous/Older Posts Return Home

Archives
2011: Jan Feb
2010: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2009: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2008: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2007: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2006: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2005: Sept Oct Nov Dec

Legal Notice

The information presented on this web site is based on news reports, medical and government documents, and personal analysis. It does NOT represent therapeutic prescription or recommendation. For specific advice and information, consult your health care provider.

Comments at PTSD Combat do not necessarily represent the editor's views. Illegal or inappropriate material will be removed when brought to our attention. The existence of such does not reflect an endorsement.



This site contains at times large portions of copyrighted material not specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This material is used for educational purposes, to forward understanding of issues that concern veterans and military families. In accordance with U.S. Copyright Law Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. More information.