The war on a soldier’s mind is getting too gruesome to ignore.
As news from the March 11 killing spree of a U.S. Army sargeant on an Afghan village resulting in the deaths of 16 civilians—women and children included—continues to filter in, the U.S. military needs to now take a hard stand against allowing troops with brain injuries to go back out into combat.
The effects of the stress built from post-traumatic stress disorder (see issues 8 and 9 of The Current for more information on PTSD and previous editorial on wartime stress) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) have on a solider in battle are far too great to not give medical attention during deployments rather than waiting until the end.
Reports from the Associated Press indicate that the 38-year-old staff sergeant began his first deployment in Afghanistan in December. However, he served three deployments in Iraq. A trained sniper, according to reports from The Washington Post, the suspect was diagnosed with TBI after sustaining a head injury during a vehicle rollover in Iraq in 2010.
Yet military medical examiners declared him fit for duty and let him back out on the battleground with a gun and an injured mind.
Military forces need to ensure another incident does not occur. The waning relationship with Afghanistan also has taken an enormous hit with anti-American protests throughout the region. Now is the time for military officials to examine the minds during deployments, not just on the way out.
And if a soldier is unfit, the military needs to remove them from combat, to saves the soldier’s life and the lives of those who could be hurt from the repercussions.
The acts of this soldier, along with the Marines who were videotaped urinating on the corpses in January and the Marines photographed burning copies of the Quran in February indicate the need for military officials to take a closer look at the minds of their troops.
However, now is the time to really take care of these young men and women who have sacrificed not only their bodies for the United States, but obviously also their minds.
The effects are not only evident now during wartime situations, but medical reports have indicated the effects carry on for up to two years following incident with proper medical attention, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs’ mental health department.
Think about the effects if no attention is given.
This cannot continue, and the first step is to provide help now, before it is once again too late.