Hopefully you all in the middle of a long Memorial Day weekend. As it happens I know each of you quite well and I know that despite the fact that I have political differences of opinion with some of you I know you all to be solid patriots who know the value of military service and honor those who serve, have served, and especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and paid with their lives. Many of you are veterans yourselves or are still serving, and I salute you for that.
I know that all of you will take time to reflect on those who have for the last nearly 237 years given their lives in defense of our nation in so many wars against enemies both foreign and domestic.
What many of you may not realize is that the plight of the nearly 50 million current veterans in America has not improved much over the years.
A good friend of mine recently drew my attention to three articles that all trace back to the Fort Carson Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) right there in my own home town. This particular WTU has been shrouded in controversy in the past. I am not surprised that all three of these incidents have occurred there.
Over the years I have lived in Colorado Springs I have found the Gazette to be a fairly unbiased paper, but like so many forms of media it does lean left. I am fairly sure that there is more to each of these stories, extenuating circumstances, an “Army side” to each. But the fact remains that these Soldiers are broken. They got that way doing their jobs. They may not be thinking and acting rationally, but it’s up to the Army to accommodate them – not the other way around.
Still, I urge each of you to find time to read these this weekend and decide for yourselves.
“Disposable”; this first is a story about how a great many PTSD afflicted Wounded Warriors who are being discharged at an alarming rate…
“After the longest period of war in American history, more soldiers are being discharged for misconduct than at any time in recent history, and soldiers with the most combat exposure are the hardest hit. A Gazette investigation based on data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act shows the annual number of misconduct discharges is up more than 25 percent Army-wide since 2009, mirroring the rise in wounded. At the eight Army posts that house most of the service’s combat units, including Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, misconduct discharges have surged 67 percent.
“Left Behind”; the second story is about a twice wounded Soldier busted for drug use while at the Fort Carson Warrior Transition Unit.
“In 2011, a year after joining the WTU, just days after coming out of a surgery, Jensen tested positive for the drug amphetamine. The then-41-year-old asked to be retested, suggesting his many Army prescriptions might be to blame. His commander refused and instead gave Jensen the maximum punishment, cutting his rank to private, docking his pay and canceling surgery to fix his face so he could spend weeks mopping floors, picking weeds and scrubbing toilets.”
“Locked Away”; the third story examines how Soldiers across the country are being jailed in record numbers for violent actions resulting from their PTSD.
“Sgt. Paul Sasse arrived at Fort Carson in February in a uniform glistening with decorations from three combat tours: five medals for heroism, four for excellence, three for good conduct and one for nearly getting killed in Iraq. The 32-year-old Special Forces soldier also wore shackles. He was facing court-martial for assaulting his wife and two military police officers. Sasse had been sitting in solitary confinement at the El Paso County jail for months without military charge and had been brought to the Colorado Springs Army post to be arraigned. “I just need someone to help me,” he said, reaching with bound hands to show a Gazette reporter his medical files.”
The bottom line is that while the US military has made advancements in Veteran’s affairs it is still a system fraught with problems. 22 Veterans commit suicide every day in America. The way America treats its Veterans must improve. Support our Vets with your dollars by donating to the following organizations… even a few dollars will help.
Wounded Warrior Project; provides full-spectrum assistance for wounded military Veterans. Set up a regular monthly donation as low as $19/month… $.64/day.
I support both of these organizations among others. You can also Google something like “veterans advocacy groups”, do some research and choose other charities yourself.
More importantly I urge you to add support for our wounded military Veterans to your list of priorities for candidates you support for public office.
With your help and generous donations our courageous Veterans can live healthy, well-adjusted lives. Have a great Memorial Day weekend, and thank you to all of the Veterans among you!