Scott Kimball and Aaron Hughes : Ft. Hood: ‘On Watch’ for Traumatized Soldiers

Memorial Day:
Ft. Hood ‘Watchtower’ on lookout
for mistreatment of soldiers with trauma

By Scott Kimball and Aaron Hughes / The Rag Blog / May 30, 2011

FORT HOOD, Texas — Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), and representatives from Under the Hood GI Outreach Center and Café, erected a three-story watchtower outside Ft. Hood’s East Gate.

“We put up this guard tower to announce that we are putting General Campbell [Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr.] on watch for mistreatment of traumatized soldiers. As Third Corps commander, he is now accountable for the treatment of all the soldiers under his command,” said Malachi Muncy, Under the Hood intern and member of IVAW. “This is how we are remembering our brothers and sisters for Memorial Day, by fighting for their right to heal.”

The veterans took turns standing guard on the tower while others handed out purple ribbons to soldiers heading into the East Gate.

“We are asking people to wear the ribbons this Memorial Day in remembrance of the service members we lost to suicide as well as those who are suffering from military sexual trauma, post traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury” said Sergio Kochergin, member of IVAW and Disabled American Veterans.

Operation Recovery, a campaign led by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, calls for an end to the deployment of service members who have been diagnosed with trauma. The Operation Recovery campaign has been attempting to meet with General Campbell for over a month, sending certified letters and over 600 emails from supporters urging Campbell to meet with the Operation Recovery organizers at Ft. Hood.

According to representatives from IVAW, General Campbell has not responded to these requests.

On Wednesday, May 25, members of the Operation Recovery team went to Third Corps headquarters in an attempt to meet with Campbell. The organizers were turned away and questioned by security officials about their presence on post.

“We went to Third Corps with the hope that General Campbell would meet with us so that we could hear his plans for making changes at Ft. Hood. Instead, we were denied a meeting and questioned by the MPs,” said Kyle Wesolowski, manager of Under the Hood and member of IVAW.

The team was able to hand deliver a letter that listed Operation Recovery’s specific requests to one of Campbell’s aides. In the letter, the organizers requested a meeting with Campbell as well as information regarding Ft. Hood’s treatment of soldiers with trauma. The letter states specific demands including a threefold increase in the number of healthcare providers, mirroring the same increase in suicides at Ft. Hood last year.

The Operation Recovery campaign team chose Ft. Hood as their base of operations because of its reputation as the post with the highest suicide rate. The Army’s official suicide count for Ft. Hood last year was 22, nearly twice as many suicides as any other post.

“We are now holding General Campbell accountable for each and every suicide under his watch,” said Aaron Hughes, former sergeant, Iraq veteran and the Field Organizing Team Leader for IVAW. “Furthermore, we hold him responsible for every soldier under his command who is forced to deploy with military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, or post traumatic stress disorder.”

Members of Ft. Hood’s mental health care staff are burdened with over 4,000 patients every month. The veteran organizers feel that this and other statistics support their claim that mental health care at Ft. Hood is subpar.

“The Ft. Hood command is providing inadequate care for its soldiers,” Said Scott Kimball, veteran of the Iraq War and an Operation Recovery organizer. “As of last year, there was only one counselor for all military sexual trauma cases on Ft. Hood. Current Army-wide statistics report that one in three women in the military report sexual assault.”

According to reporting from the San Antonio Express News, Ft. Hood spokesperson Chris Haug claimed that Campbell would respond when the organizers “are ready for a two way conversation.”

“We are ready and have been ready. This is what we have been asking for, an opportunity to sit down with General Campbell to help him understand the seriousness of these issues and what he can do right now to combat suicides and provide the care his soldiers deserve,” said Wesolowski.

[Scott Kimball is an organizer for Operation Recovery and Aaron Hughes is a field organizer for the Iraq Veterans Against the War. Operation Recovery is a national effort led by IVAW to stop the deployment of traumatized troops and the abuse of troops’ right to heal. For more information, go here.]

The Rag Blog

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1 Response to Scott Kimball and Aaron Hughes : Ft. Hood: ‘On Watch’ for Traumatized Soldiers

  1. I don’t see the tags for blockquote but here goes old-fashioned
    nstead, we were denied a meeting and questioned by the MPs,” said Kyle Wesolowski, manager of Under the Hood and member of IVAW.

    They do that on other bases too. My landlady a VietNam/Agent Orange widow,was sent by the VA to get a Dependents ID card at the nearest base, which happened to be Peterson AFB. I was in the Air Force and know the difference, the guards at the gate weren’t Air Force SPs or for that matter regular military.
    I got unofficial confirmation later that they’re Blackwater mercenary.

    They wouldn’t let me on base which suited me just fine… until she came out three hours later crying.

    The Administration Building personnel, also not Air Force, threatened to arrest her on Terror charges just for being on base, even with orders from the VA for the staff to help Miss Johnnie.

    She’s 62 now, guess that qualifies her as an Elderly Widow. And they pulled that shit on her.
    Given the rules of Karma and Dharma, which are basically the same rules as “as thou sowest so also shalt thou reap” I don’t want to even contemplate how they or their widows are going to be treated.

    Anyway, the mention that the General KNEW who you were and what your well-advertised far in advance plans were, they STILL had the MPs “question” you.

    Picture here my eyes getting all glassy, tears forming, my voice choking a bit. It’s the natural response to the strong stench of fresh bullshit.

    “Oh,we’re not arresting you,we’re just detaining you without any specific charge for “questioning”.

    Keep the faith. They’ve OFFICIALLY known for 35 years that Agent Orange causes all the health problems attributed to it and more that they just ain’t told us yet.

    They still use it, too, just packaged differently, like Paraquat and RoundUp.

    In forty years maybe we’ll all still be here to fight the Egypt Syndrome. You know the one…

    Some people have to travel all the way to Egypt to go swim in De Nile.

    The nasty little pessimist at the back of my brain says the fight will still be going on.

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