Eric Jasinski : Treating PTSD With Jail Time

Spc. Eric Jasinski.

Went AWOL seeking help for PTSD:
Eric Jasinski released from Texas jail

By Alice Embree / The Rag Blog / April 23, 2010

Eric Jasinski is being released from the Bell County Jail in Belton, Texas, tomorrow morning, April 24. He will have served 25 days of a 30-day sentence.

Jasinski, 23, who is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, went AWOL in 2009 to seek help for his PTSD. His story was reported on by Dahr Jamail in The Rag Blog.

Eric Jasinski enlisted in the Army in 2005, and deployed to Iraq in October 2006 as an intelligence analyst. He collected intelligence used to direct air strikes. After his return to the U.S., Jasinski suffered from severe PTSD resulting from what he did and saw in Iraq. He felt remorse and guilt for the way he contributed to loss of life. He went through a divorce and had friends killed and maimed in combat.

He tried to get treatment for PTSD and finish out his military contract. “In late 2008,” Jasinski said, ”they stop-lossed me [an involuntary extension of contract], and that pushed me over the edge. They were going to send me back to Iraq.” Jasinski went AWOL until December 11, 2009, when he turned himself in to authorities at Fort Hood.

The Army scheduled a Summary Court Martial for March 31. Jasinski was sentenced to 30 days in the Bell County Jail. Laura Barrett, Jasinski’s mother, told the Temple Herald Telegram, “This has been a total outrage. I cannot believe my son who is diagnosed with PTSD from his deployment to Iraq would be sent to jail.”

James Branum, Jasinski’s civilian defense attorney, submitted a clemency request asking that Jasinski be released on mental health grounds or transferred to the psych ward at Darnall Army Medical Center to complete his sentence. The Army did not respond. With Jasinki’s permission, Branum shared a letter written from the Bell County Jail by Jasinski.

Branum said, “We, as Americans, need to see how combat vets are treated today. Eric is in jail because he has PTSD and was denied the care he needed. His ‘desertion’ was an act of desperation, the act of a soldier who had no other options.”

Here is part of what Eric Jasinski wrote from the Bell County Jail in Belton, Texas. We publish it as he wrote it:

When I am taken out of jail back to Fort Hood for any appointments I am led around in handcuffs and ankle shackles in front of crowds of soldiers… which is overwhelming on my mind. My guilt from treating prisoners in Iraq sub-human and I did things to them and watched my unit do cruel actions against prisoners, so being humiliated like that forces me to fall into the dark spiral of guilt. I now know what it feels like to have no rights and have people stare and judge based on your shackles and I feel even more like a monster cause I used to do this to Iraqi people.

Even worse is the fact that this boils down to the military failing to treat my PTSD but I am being punished for it… I feel as if I am being a threat to others or myself and still the Army mental health professional blow me off just like in 2009 when I felt like I had no choice but to go AWOL, since I received a 5 minute mental evaluation and was stop-lossed despite my PTSD, and was told that they could do nothing for me. The insufficient mental evaluation from a doctor I had never seen before, combined with the insufficient actions by the doctor on 9 April show the Army is not trying to make progress…

I have tried to “do the right thing” as those in the Army say and all they do in return is destroy me even more mentally and publicly say that they are going to look out for me while behind closed doors the exact opposite is happening… I have been tossed in the trash just like the brave and honorable resisters of Vietnam. The machine never stops and it never changes.

The Rag Blog

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22 Responses to Eric Jasinski : Treating PTSD With Jail Time

  1. masterspork says:

    Why do people even give any responsibility for their future to James Branum? He has shown time and time again to a terrible Lawyer that has little to not knowledge of how USMJ works.

    It seems that he is place the “Cause” Before the needs of his clients.

  2. swimmerfran says:

    What this young man has had to face should be an outrage to us all. I hope that he will find his strength and begin to heal. I thank James Branum for his dedication to helping these soldiers find their way toward justice in the midst of the overwhelming intimidation that is the military culture.

  3. masterspork says:

    James Barnum has not helped any person that he has ‘defended”. Each time his clients find themselves having a guilty verdict. He put his cause before his clients.

  4. Armywife says:

    Masterspork, with all do respect to having your own opinion, you nor thisainthell know what you are talking about. why don’t you come down to UtH coffeehouse and talk to some of James’ clients and people who have worked with James?

  5. masterspork says:

    The ones that got a a guilty charge? Just from reading the reports from each trial shows that James has no knowledge of UCMJ system.

    About “This Aint Hell” is a military website with many members to include myself that have deployed to a combat zone. So there is general understanding of UCMJ and how it works.

    So when we point out that it is unethical to ask money for a “defense fund” for a person that is seeking a CO discharge that can be gotten for free.

    The reason that Travis Bishop was put into jail was because he went AWOL, not because he wanted to get a CO discharge.

    Because we have been asking for any clients that did not end up badly for them. Can you give some stories about any issues that have gone well?

    I am in Alaska so I am not any where close to Texas at the moment.

  6. Armywife says:


    Yes come talk to clients that got guilty charges. There are two that come to UtH daily. And they still stand behind James and the choices THEY made.

    As for having a general understanding of UCMJ and how it works does not give anyone the right to slander people.

    The problem with people like you all is that you always get your info wrong or make assumptions. All soldiers that we talk to know they can apply for CO for free. If they choose to ask an attorney for help and are low on funds there are great people out there that donate to help them. So there is nothing unethical that James is doing.

    As for Travis we know the story so there is no need to comment on it.

    Honey as we all know in the military community when you go up against the brass or institution it never goes well. You got two options… 1. You stay quiet and accept what they give you or 2. You tell them to go fuck themselves and get more time.

    Well that’s to bad you can’t visit UtH maybe when you come back to TX you can see for yourself what we do.

  7. masterspork says:

    Still waiting on names and a quick background of what happened.

    If you do not know something that you are expected to be a expert in it is not slander to point it out.

    Once again I would like to know how one can charge something that can done for free. It does not cost anything to use a JAG Lawyer. To charge someone for a free service it to me unethical. Something like what happens at a Pay Day loan place.

    That is false, I have managed to work with someone who had PTSD and was deployed anyways. It took some time but we managed to get him home with a honorable discharge. I am telling you it can be done.

    But accept that it will take time to do and every action must be thought out rather then doing something stupid and crazy like going AWOL.

  8. Anonymous says:

    masterspork –
    Perhaps you should read up on the legal definition of “slander” before espousing your views on it. I’d suggest you check on “libel” as well, since you’ve put your opinion in writing.

  9. masterspork says:

    Then name one client that he has that did not get the worst possible outcome? If there are any then why is he only using the people that have gotten lower then a General discharge and jail time on his youtube videos?

    He has yet to have a case that I have seen that has gone well that he was involved in.

    Once case with name, background and outcome that had something even remotely positive happen for the solider.

    Here is a example of a person that is doing it right. Helping each Solider’s with their problems and not to use them as a tool for or against the current wars. Take a hint.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Spork: You remind me of the Bush administration (from top to bottom) – if they said it often enough, they truly believed it became true.

  11. JM says:

    I have a policy of not responding to anyone affiliated with TAH. Responding to them gives their website credibility, which is why I do not respond to their posts on their website anymore. (two old quotes come to mind, one about “not casting pearls before swine” and the other one “you can’t wrestle with a pig without getting muddy”)

    But since folks are talking about my cases in this venue, let me explain a couple of things. Beyond that, I won’t be engaging in dialogue any further on this subject.

    1. With regards to my putting the “cause” ahead of my clients – Completely untrue. My clients do know where I stand and because of that I do attract a high percentage of political/conscientious objector clients, but not all of my clients are political or have issues of conscience. Many just want to get out of the Army quietly. I respect that. I don’t push them to do anything they don’t want to do.

    Now, as a lawyer I have the right to pick and choose what cases I take on. As such, with rare exceptions, I only take cases of soldiers who want to be discharged in the end. I do work with soldiers who are fighting admin discharges so they can get better discharges (i.e. med boards), but if the soldier’s goal is to stay in, then I respectfully refuse that case and refer them to other lawyers and resources.

    But even for those clients who I might agree with on politics or philosophy (and rarely do I agree with any of them 100% of the time), I still provide them with full and complete information on all of their options, so that they can make up their own mind about how to approach their cases.

    2. With regards to my track record, please understand that a small percentage of my clients choose to go public. Of those who do go public, most want to do so for one of three reasons: (1) they want to expose the injustice being done to them, (2) they want to bring public pressure on the military to change the outcome of their case and/or provide them protection from physical harm, or (3) they have political points of their own to make.

    When a client wants to go public, I will give them full information on the consequences (both negative and positive) and often will be downright forceful in arguing with them if I think the outcome will be particularly bad (as defined by the client, the client sets the goals not me). But it is still the client’s call to make. Unless the client wants to do something illegal or unethical, I have to respect their decision.

    But all of that said, most of my clients don’t go public.

    I don’t keep stats on it in any kind of detailed way, but I would estimate that about 85% of my clients wind up with no jail time. That percentage used to be higher, but these days I’m taking on more challenging cases where the odds are stacked against me from the get-go.

    Anyway I wanted to explain these things for the anti-war/peace community that might be reading this.

    – James M. Branum

  12. Anonymous says:

    I like how no one can give a direct and honest answer to mastersporks simple question. How many people who refused deployment for moral or medical reasons that Branum represented not get the worst outcome possible? Eric Jasinki should be getting medical treatment and the fact he got jail time is absurd and while a strike against the Army it is also a strike against Under The Hood Cafe for feeding another Soldier who needed help to this incompetent practitioner of the law.

    The UCMJ allows for a Soldier to choose free representation from any lawyer from any branch all paid for by the Military. So there would be no need for Branum.

    AWOL does not mean automatic jail time. For anyone to suggest that is grossly misinformed. They just want to get that person off the books and move on. Branum seems to go in a botch things up so bad they end up getting jail time. No one is also the wiser because people on the outside like these activists don’t understand the UCMJ, hate the Army, so they will blame the Military because they are already predetermined to. Lack of knowledge and true understand allows Branum to operate in this manner. People need to look at the actual numbers for how many Soldiers actually get jail time for going AWOL. It is very very low.

    Another absurd accusation is that anyone who stands up to the Military will get punished to the severity in which Bramun’s clients do. How these people have forgotten active duty troops who stood up and all walked away with Honorable Discharges and zero jail time is sad. Colby Buzzel, Ronn Cantu, Casey Porter, Selena Coppa, just to name a few.

    Support war resisters, keep them away from Under The Hood and James Branum.

  13. Anonymous says:


    Who were the lawyers that represented Selena, Porter, Cantu, Colby and others who do well for their clients? Maybe the best way to support these folks is to steer them to reputable representation.

  14. JM says:

    Anonymous, as I stated earlier, the overwhelming majority of my clients do NOT get jail time. I don’t know how much more clear I can get on this point.

    Even for my clients who aren’t just garden variety AWOL’s but actually refuse deployments, a high percentage get no jail time. (if you wait until the last minute to refuse, your odds go down obviously).

    But I make no guarantees. Sometimes I can swing a good deal. Sometimes I can’t. Any lawyer who claims they get good deals all of the time, either only take easy cases, is a liar, and/or is a fool.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Then Mr. Branum I ask you to answer a straight forward question: How many war resisters have you represented that did not get a negative discharge or get jail time? I’m not asking for court documents, or anything that would violate client attorney privilege. Actually, giving out such information would not violate that trust because any case would be a matter of public record and there is no foreseeable legal reason I can think of as to why a case like that would be sealed. So please, sir, can we get that number?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Come on, seriously now. Eric Jasinski is claiming to have PTSD from watching video’s. What is an outrage is the fact that his family suggested in the papers that their precious and “honorable” son be awarded a purple heart for his trials and hardships of dodging laser pointers from the safety of the FOB.
    Eric Jasinski wasn’t on the ground counting dead bodies. All he did was read and compile reports. Maybe he got a papercut, I don’t know and that is the result of his PTSD.

    Fact is that he is a fraud. However I did like in his letter from jail that he admits to committing a war crime.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Come on, seriously now. Eric Jasinski is claiming to have PTSD from watching video’s. What is an outrage is the fact that his family suggested in the papers that their precious and “honorable” son be awarded a purple heart for his trials and hardships of dodging laser pointers from the safety of the FOB.
    Eric Jasinski wasn’t on the ground counting dead bodies. All he did was read and compile reports. Maybe he got a papercut, I don’t know and that is the result of his PTSD.

    Fact is that he is a fraud. However I did like in his letter from jail that he admits to committing a war crime.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Well, I guess it’s clear that James can not answer simply straight forward questions. I feel for his clients.

  19. Anonymous says:

    For the one accusing him of being a fraud. I served with Jasinski when he was there and he had his fair share of time outside the wire. Although I might not agree with his choice in going AWOL, I know many of the things he saw and faced while there and the effects it can have on a person. And although some enjoy “killing the enemy,” others can’t justify it to themselves and it continues to eat at them long after they return home. But what would I know, I was only there.

  20. masterspork says:

    Never said anything about Jasinski, but know that is putting his future in the hands of James Branum is not the best thing for him.

    This is one of the newer ones that he has been trying to make money on.

  21. JM says:

    Just wanted to update some of the naysayers on the outcome of this case.

    Eric Jasinski got a full HONORABLE DISCHARGE from the Army. The unit screwed up and didn’t extend his ETS date. Once it passed, we simply submitted our demand for Eric get his DD214 showing his honorable discharge, which he has received.

    So, Eric will get his GI bill. Eric will get VA benefits. Things turned out pretty well for Eric.

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