The subject title above is the third installment of a week long series of reports being run at Salon.com.
The first two installment reports can be found in links below or with this link of what I posted previously
John Needham at home in San Clemente, Calif., in January 2007, during a two-week leave from his tour of duty in Iraq.
John Needham returned from Iraq, suffering from combat stress. If he had received proper care, would he be standing trial for murder?
This is the third installment in a weeklong investigative series called “Coming Home.” Read a note written by John Needham here. You can also read the introduction to the series, and the first and second installments, which appeared Monday and Tuesday.
The third installment in this series, by Michael de Yoanna and Mark Benjamin at Salon.com, starts out thus:
Feb. 12, 2009 | FORT CARSON, Colo. — Fellow soldiers in Iraq called John Wiley Needham “Needhammer” for his toughness. They also saw him as somehow charmed, because the tall blond Army private from Southern California always seemed to be just far enough away from danger. People died next to Needham; Needham survived.
But “Needhammer” was not indestructible after all. He struggled with the aftereffects of the explosions he’d dodged. He survived a suicide attempt while in Iraq, and, after being shipped out of the country in 2007, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury. He took so many prescription meds he could barely hold his head up. According to Needham’s father, Mike, the Army’s response to the soldier’s problems was punishment rather than treatment.
Last year, just weeks after his discharge, he allegedly beat 19-year-old aspiring model Jacqwelyn Villagomez to death in his California condo.
It continues with this clip:
A Salon investigation has identified several trends involving Fort Carson soldiers who became homicidal. There are failures by healthcare workers and commanders to provide proper care to soldiers struggling with hidden wounds such as PTSD and brain injuries. There is a tendency to overmedicate soldiers struggling with stress or other injuries. Behind it all is an Army culture that punishes problematic soldiers instead of aiding them.
But it can’t be misunderstood that Fort Carson, nor just the Army, is the only Military Base where soldiers, returning from In-Theater tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, is the only base where these soldiers, especially after serving multiple tours, many on extended tours of more than a year, are experiencing the problems of reintegration and suffering from the effects of war and occupation of others, especially within the culture of the military. Those of us who are ‘Nam vets, and others before and after that, were there with our brothers who went through the same, and back than the tour in country was normally only a twelve month one for the greater majority. Longer tours, less down time between tours, strain of these tours on the soldier and their families, and so much more of the personal and military stress can break down even the strongest minds of many, war and occupations are the complete opposite of the way we are raised and taught how to view the world around us.
This first page of the Salon report, third installment, leads into this “We believe what happened was he had a flashback and lost control” second page, subtitled thus at the bottom of page one.
While Wolgast declines to link soldier healthcare and violent crimes to PTSD, Sheilagh McAteer, a Colorado public defender and a member of a federal Health and Human Services task force exploring ways to divert combat veterans who resort to crime, sees compelling links.
McAteer says soldiers returning home after traumatic war experiences are struggling with violence. Some are winding up in prison and Army officials need to wake up and recognize the problem, she adds.
So far, though, the Army is “refusing to take responsibility,” McAteer says. “That’s a problem.”
Just as happened before and for the long time after, till the next War of Choice raises it’s ugly head, as we never learn the real lessons of, and fail to even learn and understand the tactical.