August 07, 2009
Name: Chaplain CPT Dr. Father Tim
Posting date: 8/7/09
Returned from: Iraq
Milblog: Curmudgeon: An Unlikely Army Chaplain
I was chatting online with yet another GWOT veteran whom I've never met last night. We've been corresponding for about 18 months, I'd guess. This guy is a Staff Sergeant (SSG/E-6) in the Army National Guard who served overseas shortly after the invasion of Iraq.
He's got 15 years in uniform, and went to the V.A. to get help with PTSD and mTBI (post-traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury) a while ago. The V.A. did what they were supposed to do, and helped this guy to see that he was having a normal reaction to an incredibly abnormal circumstance, and his issues resolved over time.
Not too long ago, during the Periodic Health Assessment (PHA) each Soldier has to complete each year, he mentioned that he'd been to the V.A. to get help.
His National Guard unit is now sending him to a medical review board in order to kick him out of the Army. He'd just gotten the paperwork from the Army on Saturday morning.
"The guys in my unit look at me as though I have the plague," he mentioned.
THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!
I am so angry I cannot see straight.
A friend of mine who's a psychiatrist at a large military medical installation here in the States where they see lots of personnel experiencing post-deployment difficulties told me that the Active Duty Army is doing a pretty good job of working to de-stigmatize a diagnosis of PTSD. "But the National Guard in many States is just way behind the power curve here, and they still effectively punish Soldiers for getting the help they deserve and need, and which can restore them to full functionality in their military mission."
Not so long ago a Lieutenant General in the Army (three stars) went public with the fact of his struggle against PTSD, an act which ought to be lauded by all concerned. But this NCO, upon being honest with his superiors about his own experience, is going to be medically discharged from the Army because his State's National Guard Bureau is living in some other century, and operating out of complete blindness and stupidity.
Instead of censuring this guy, we should be applauding him and honoring his desire to accomplish the Army's mission by ensuring that he's fully mission capable.
By this action, his State's National Guard Bureau is sending the message that it's better to pretend that nothing is wrong until such time as the Soldier either commits homicide or suicide or both.
This Soldier has fifteen good years of service, wants to continue to retirement, has had his problems resolved as the result of taking the courageous action he took to acknowledge the truth of his situation, and the National Guard is going to kick him out because of it.