Action Alert: U.S. Army Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside

For those who are inclined to take action as a result of the excellent Daily Kos diaries of gchaucer2 and BlueTape on the effort by some Army apparatchiks to intimidate and crush the unfortunate U.S. Army Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside, below the break is a listing of contact names, links, addresses, and phone numbers for directing your comments.

Lt. Whiteside, who suffered a breakdown while serving in Iraq, has spent the past year undergoing multiple surgeries and undergoing psychiatric care at Walter Reed. The Army is threatening to court-martial Lt. Whiteside, who has refused to resign and waive a veteran’s rights to ongoing medical care. The case encapsulates the Army bureaucracy’s cavalier, dismissive treatment of soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting from the stresses and trauma of serving in Iraq.

I managed to track down the Whiteside family yesterday and spoke by phone for several minutes with Elizabeth’s father, a former Marine officer who served in Vietnam. I brought gchaucer2’s excellent diary to Thomas Whiteside’s attention, and he called back to praise gchaucer2’s excellent summary of the initial powerful investigative piece, ‘A Soldier’s Officer,’ by Dana Priest and Anne Hull in the WaPo on December 2nd.

As gchaucer2 noted yesterday, this is a case that compels not just passive outrage, but action.

Below the jump are key contacts, as well as the connecting of a few related dots.

(Previously posted version at Daily Kos.)

Below are contacts for those who wish to move beyond stewing in incredulity over such treatment of veterans.

Here is a link to a list of members of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. Perhaps the most impact can come from contacting the committee chairman, Senator Carl Levin or Virginia Senator Jim Webb. (Before her deployment to Iraq, Lt. Whiteside was a resident of Richmond, Virginia). Senator Webb’s key Hill staffer folowing this case is Gordon Peterson. His e-mail address is:

[email protected]. His phone number is: (202) 224-4024.

Senator Webb’s key case worker on the issue is JoAnn Pulliam in Richmond. Her e-mail address is:  [email protected]. Her phone number is: (804) 771-2221.

Missouri Senator Bond has been closely following the medical treatment of veterans. The e-mail address of his key case worker in Missouri is:

[email protected]. Her phone number is (575) 634-2488.

Sen. Bond’s key Hill staffer on this case is James Pitchford. His e-mail is:

[email protected]. His phone number is: (202) 224-5721.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office is also in the loop, for Thomas Whiteside is a resident of Nevada. The e-mail address of Reid’s key staffer monitoring the case is:

[email protected]. Verma’s phone number is (202) 224-6985.

Key members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee are its chairman, Senator Daniel Akaka at (202) 224-9126 and ranking minority member Sen. Richard Burr at (202) 224-2074. The e-mail link for the committee is here.

Here is a link to the members of the House Armed Services Committee. Here is a link to its chairman, Rep. Ike Skelton.

Here is the address of the Secretary of the Army:

The Honorable Pete Geren

Secretary of the Army

101 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0101

The e-mail address of Geren’s Public Affairs Officer is:

[email protected]. Bettencourt’s phone number is: (703) 693-8603.

Here is the address of the Army Chief of Staff:

General George W. Casey, Jr.

Army Chief of Staff

200 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0200

There is much fodder for incredulous outrage in the Priest/Hull article as summarized by gchaucer2 and BlueTape. Lt. Whiteside’s experience is a classic illustration of how the Army tries to drum out traumatized soldiers on the pretext of “pre-existing” conditions in order to avoid responsibility for ongoing medical and psychiatric care.

Here is an interesting survey on this pattern of official abuse, which at long last has received some attention from members of Congress. Congress began asking last summer why nearly 25,000 servicemen and women had been discharged for pre-existing “personality disorders” since 2001, thereby stripping them of medical benefits.

And CBS uncovered data showing that in the year 2005 alone, over 6,000 veterans committed suicide and that the rate among young veterans in their early 20’s was three to four times the national average.

So here is the mind set and approach of robotic apparatchiks such as Col. Terrence J. McKenrick and  prosecutor Major Maj. Stefan Wolfe:

(1) Deploy the soldier to the war zone, such as Iraq.

(2) If the soldier is damaged by the stresses and traumas of the war zone and ends up with PTSD and psychological breakdown, deny that soldier ongoing care in order to save money.

(3) If a soldier so damaged refuses to slink meekly away and waive medical benefits, bring the full weight of the organization against that soldier and threaten him–in this case her–with life imprisonment.

Apparently, in the view of Col. McKenrick and Maj. Wolfe, volunteering to serve in a war zone earns no compassion once the damage is done and the soldier is no longer of use to the military.

Do such remorseless creatures as Col. McKenrick and Maj. Wolfe take a cue from the practices of big medical insurance companies that grant promotions and raises to their own clerks who deny the most coverage to the most policyholders? It is a similar kind of breach of trust at work in this case, is it not?

As Thomas Whiteside pointed out to me, the medical personnel–the surgeons, psychiatrists, and nurses– at Walter Reed are first-rate. Why cannot the apparatchiks, the so-called “managers,” try to do as well in providing for the post-trauma needs of our veterans, such as Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside?

Is this the kind of handling that we wish for wounded and traumatized veterans? Is this what we wish done to those who volunteered to serve in war zones? Is this the kind of country that we have become?

Oh, and by the way, Thomas Whiteside noted to me how proud he was that his daughter decided to fight the charges rather than simply cave in to the pressures exerted by the Army managers.

How many of us would display the same sort of ethical courage?



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  1. by gchaucer2 in this comment on   Ilona’s diary.

    Ilona said:  

    I’ve been asked to testify on December 12, 2007, before Congress at a hearing on Stopping Suicide and Ending Homelessness: Mental Health Challenges Within the Department of Veterans Affairs by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

    “…this is a window of opportunity for us to enrich the Congressional Record with data reflecting incidents of post-combat reintegration/PTSD problems that I do not want to see pass without giving it my all…”

    I hope that if Ilona testifies about specific cases, that Lt. Whiteside’s case is one she discusses.  It is an outrage that this woman who is suffering from PTSD caused by her military service is being prosecuted by the military. The military and the government may pay lip service to taking care of the veterans damaged by their service, but when it comes to their actually doing so, they fall far short.


    • Tigana on December 4, 2007 at 06:32

    and where is Wes Clark?

  2. Sorry, I’m not totally up to speed on Lt. Whitehouse’s case, so I’m not sure what resources she and/or her family may already have used, but here is a resource I came across in responding to a comment by notlightness of being:

    GI Rights Hotline They are a “network of nonprofit,  NGO’s “…who provide information to servicemembers about military discharges, grievance and complaint procedures, and other civil rights…” including “Delayed Entry Program, Hardship, Conscientious Objection, Entry Level Separation, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Medical and Psychological” issues.  “We can help if you are experiencing hazing, harassment or discrimination, or if you have been a victim of sexual assault…”

    Also there’s the IAVA-Iraq and Afghanistan Vets of America website which may have useful resources.

    BTW, I’ll call Levin’s office today.  

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