Soldier Says Went AWOL to Get Mental Help

Spc. Eugene Cherry, who is facing a bad conduct discharge for going AWOL, claims he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder which resulted in him fleeing. He claims the Army refused to help him. “They don’t want the disability so they deny I have a problem and because I tried to help myself, now they want to make me a criminal.”

Cherry served for a year as a combat medic, returned to Ft. Drum in June, 2005, and that November left to live with his mother in Chicago. Dr. Hannah Fritsch, a clinical psychologist, said in regard to diagnosing him with post traumatic stress disorder and major depression, “This is not a borderline case. There is no question about the diagnosis.” She argues he was a combat veteran who sacrificed a great deal, but now “they are treating him like a criminal when he needs mental help.”

Ft. Drum officials claim he was receiving mental assistance and therefore had no reason to go AWOL. Cherry encountered violent encounters in Iraq as a medic. He cannot shake from his mind seeing an Iraqi woman with her face half blown off because an Army unit was trying to blow up a minivan loaded with explosives but made a mistake, costing the lives of many civilians. Cherry argues that while at Ft. Drum, “They just kept putting the treatment off. They told me to basically deal with it.

Todd Ensign, legal advisor with Citizen Soldier, a GI rights group that is supporting Cherry said, “Eugene is a case study of what is happening Army-wide. The military needs to start taking care of its soldiers, not casting them aside.”

Ensign is correct on one point: we are just encountering the tip of the iceberg, and in the coming twenty or thirty or forty years the consequences of Bush’s disastrous policies will continue impacting individuals. We can expect in the future thousands of cases of men and women who finally can no longer deal with post-traumatic stress.
Information from Military Times

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