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U.S. Military Puts Soldiers With Mental Illness In Harm's Way, Newspaper Reveals
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 18, 2006

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT--The U.S. military has been ignoring its own policies and endangering the health and safety of front-line soldiers, by sending soldiers diagnosed with mental illnesses into battle in Iraq, according to an investigative report by the Hartford Courant.

In a nine-part series published this week, the Courant found that a number of U.S. soldiers who committed suicide in Iraq did so after multiple warnings to friends, family and the military itself. Some had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, severe depression, or anxiety disorder.

Some had been redeployed to combat roles after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome resulting from earlier deployments.

Courant researchers also found that less than one percent of troops received an evaluation from a mental health professional, even though the military admits that more than nine percent have a "serious psychological illness".

One of those was Army Specialist Edward W. Brabazon, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attention-deficit disorder by the time he was 10 years of age.

"We were surprised they took him, with the kind of mental problems he had, but we figured the Army must know what they're doing," his mother, Margaret, told the Courant. "We didn't think they'd send him into combat."

On March 9, 2004, less than three months into his second deployment, 20-year-old Brabazon shot himself in the head at a Baghdad compound.

"They talked about how he had a history of mental problems," Margaret said. "I said, 'No kidding. If you knew he had mental problems, then why was he there?'"

Last year, 22 U.S. troops committed suicide while in Iraq, accounting for nearly one in five of all Army non-combat deaths, the Courant found. The number of deaths and injuries that have been brought about by soldiers in mental health crisis has not been determined.

On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman responded to the Courant series, calling for a federal investigation of mental health screening for troops being deployed to Iraq.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer responded by sending a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressing her "disgust" over reports that the military has been sending soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder back into combat.

"Mentally Unfit, Forced To Fight" (Hartford Courant)
"Disabilities And The 'War On Terror'" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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