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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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
When children are victims of violence, journalists have a responsibility to report the truth with compassion and sensitivity.
A 40-page guide to help journalists, photojournalists and editors report on violence while protecting both victims and themselves. Click here for a Ukrainian translation.
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