Salon.com’s Mark Benjamin revealed last month that seriously injured U.S. soldiers are being dispatched back to Iraq:
As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records.
Days later, House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) and Military Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Vic Snyder (D-AR) requested an immediate review of Benjamin’s report in a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Now, one of the those soldiers has stepped forward:
After an hour of bench-pressing a log weighing several hundred pounds during Army Special Forces selection training in February 2006, five soldiers lying on their backs at Fort Bragg, N.C., reacted quickly to the next order:
So quickly, in fact, that when they dropped the log, it landed on Spc. Paul Thurman’s head.
“I shook for a moment, and then went limp,” Thurman told Military Times. “I was unconscious for a minute or two, and then I went back to training.”
An MRI later showed that Thurman had lesions on the right parietal lobe of his brain, a condition that led to a “don’t deploy” order — which the Army violated, according to Thurman. Worse, rather than providing compassionate understanding of the symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury, he said leaders at Fort Carson, Colo., have harassed him, refused him medication and pushed for an Article 15.
The Army Times reports that Thurman stepped forward after six senators wrote the GAO earlier this month requesting a review of alleged improper handling of traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.
The letter states that the Army surgeon general’s investigation into the cases “said the soldiers were handled properly — but the soldiers involved said no one from the surgeon general’s office ever talked to them in the course of that investigation.” Revolting.