Jan 7, 2011

Soldier Suffering from PTSD Threatened with Redeployment

Soldier Suffering from PTSD Threatened with Redeployment
January 6, 2010

(FORT CAMPBELL, KY.Less than two months after surrendering himself at Fort Campbell from AWOL status, Army Spc. Jeff Hanks awaits imminent redeployment to Afghanistan without having received treatment for war wounds.

Hanks, who has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, returned to the U.S. on leave this past September suffering from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and likely Traumatic Brain Injury. He sought treatment on two military bases before refusing to redeploy and going Absent Without Official Leave in order to get civilian medical attention.

Hanks has demanded that the Army respect his right to heal. With the help of the Operation Recovery campaign [http://www.ivaw.org/operation-recovery], he turned himself in to Fort Campbell on Veterans Day, ready to face the consequences but demanding treatment. Since then, he has been juggled between a series of military counselors who have provided no diagnoses, and proposals for long-term treatment have been denied by his commanders.

This week, Jeff Hanks’ commanders informed him he was scheduled to redeploy to Afghanistan on January 9. The Army's mandatory pre-deployment mental health screenings denied Hank's PTSD, contradicting positive diagnoses by three separate civilian therapists he received while AWOL. Results of an MRI test yesterday will not be available until after he is in Afghanistan. Like many soldiers have reported lately, the Army behavioral health specialist who screened Hanks suggested he seek treatment while deployed in Afghanistan.

“Four different mental health providers have diagnosed Jeff with PTSD, have advised treatment, and he has been denied treatment every single time. I am very worried about him,” says Johanna Buwalda, a licensed clinical counselor who counsels war veterans and has worked directly with Hanks since October. “Our soldiers deserve the right to heal.”

Hanks’ lawyer reports that Jeff’s situation remains tenuous but all signs point to orders to redeploy. For now, it is unclear how Jeff will react if officially ordered to redeploy, but he continues to stress his demands for adequate treatment before redeployment.

Operation Recovery is a national effort led by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to stop the deployment of traumatized troops and the abuse of troops’ right to heal. For more information, go to: http://www.ivaw.org/operation-recovery.

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