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Dart Award Honorable Mention

Mental Anguish, Injustice & the Military

In late 2006, Daniel Zwerdling reported for NPR on soldiers being punished, instead of treated, for having mental health problems. His groundbreaking reports led to investigation by the Senate, Pentagon and Government Accountability Office and widespread promises of reform.

In late 2006, Daniel Zwerdling reported for NPR on soldiers being punished, instead of treated, for having mental health problems. His groundbreaking reports led to investigation by the Senate, Pentagon and Government Accountability Office and widespread promises of reform. In this 2007 series, Zwerdling followed up, investigating how those promises of change would be honored. In seven broadcasts, he told stories of suffering soldiers, inept new training programs and soldiers and veterans who are fighting the system, continuing to expose the deficiencies in military mental health care and prompt further investigations and congressional pressure.

Part One: Military Mental Health Care Under Scrutiny
03/06/2007

As the Senate holds hearings over conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Daniel Zwerdling reports that the problems facing veterans with mental health problems are much larger than any one facility.

Part Two: Gaps in Mental Care Persist for Fort Carson Soldiers
05/24/2007

After Zwerdling’s earlier reports, a training program was launched to teach leaders at Fort Carson to help every soldier in trouble. Now Zwerdling reports on this new program, which could become the model for the entire US Army. He finds a rushed workshop full of troubling contradictions, and is told by four independent mental health experts that, at best, it’s “almost worthless.”  In fact, it could actually make matters worse.

Part Three: Reporter’s Notebook: Has Fort Carson Changed Since PTSD Expose?
05/26/2007

At Fort Carson, Zwerdling is overwhelmed by thanks from military officers for bringing PTSD out in the open.  He has to wonder: doth the commander thank too much?

Part Four: Former Soldiers Helps Others Fight Army for Help
07/07/2007

Andrew Pogany was a staff sergeant in Iraq, when he had a panic attack and began hallucinating. Instead of receiving long-term treatment, he was charged with cowardice. Now Pogany helps soldiers facing similar situations, and has helped bring the national spotlight to soldiers’ mental health problems.

Part Five: Respected Marine Lawyer Alleges Military Injustices
10/30/2007

Colby Vokey is a top lawyer in the U.S. Marine Corps, the head of all their defense lawyers in the western states. But now, Vokey says some commanders and Bush administration officials have so abused the military system of justice, that he doesn’t want to be part of it anymore.

Part Six: Army Dismissals for Mental Health, Misconduct Rise
11/15/2007

At long last, the Pentagon releases figures on mental health problems in the military. They show that, since the beginning of the war in Iraq, officers have kicked out 28,000 troops for behavior issues potentially linked to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder — almost 20% more than during the same period before the war.

Part Seven: Effort Builds to Help “Forgotten” Troops with PTSD
12/20/2007

As a lance corporal in Iraq, Patrick Uloth witnessed unimaginable violence, and he returned behaving erratically and suffering from seizures and hallucinations. Unable to get adequate treatment at Camp Pendleton, he checked into a psychiatric facility at a base in Mississippi, only to be arrested and given a “less than honorable” discharge, even though he was diagnosed with "uncontrollable trembling," "memory loss" and "chronic PTSD." Zwerdling reports on the countless soldiers like Uloth who have already fallen through the cracks.

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Daniel Zwerdling

  • Daniel Zwerdling is a correspondent in NPR's Investigations Unit. His acclaimed investigative and documentary reports appear on all of NPR's major news shows.

Anne Hawke

  • Anne Hawke has traveled throughout the United States and across the globe to produce and report stories for NPR's National Desk.  She produced two prize-winning stories by Daniel Zwerdling, each of which prompted the federal government to make swift policy changes: a December 2006 investigation on Iraq veterans suffering mental anguish, which won the George Foster Peabody Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and a November 2005 series on abuse of immigration detainees, which won the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award.

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