The Associated Press is reporting that an AWOL Fort Campbell soldier scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan has entered a mental health treatment program instead.
Spc. Jeff Hanks went AWOL last year while on mid-tour leave from Afghanistan. He turned himself in on Veterans Day.
Iraq Veterans Against the War took up his cause. In a press release, the group described Hanks as an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran “suffering from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and likely Traumatic Brain Injury. He sought and was denied treatment on two military bases before refusing to redeploy and going Absent Without Official Leave in order to get civilian medical attention.” It solicited e-mails on Hanks’ behalf, and provided a link to the e-mail address of “Captain Jason Ambrosino, the commander responsible for denying Jeff Hanks’ medical treatment.”
The group has the Army at a disadvantage, as the service is prevented by law from discussing its decisions and subsequent actions. As such, only one side to this story is being heard: That of the 30-year-old soldier who said he had behavioral health issues resulting from his deployments, as well as a concussion, and said the treatment provided by the Army was lacking.
But it is no secret that such treatment is indeed lacking across the Defense Department. Whether Hanks’ actions were caused by or necessary to overcome and behavioral health issues remains to be seen.
His command ordered him to return to Afghanistan to finish out his deployment, but he is now at Cumberland Hall, a residential treatment program in Hopkinsville, Ky., his wife told the AP.
Iraq Veterans Against the War said in a release that Hanks’ commander received 2,000 emails, the group’s Operation Recovery Team at Fort Campbell “spent all day Saturday delivering copies of the Article 138 redress request to Jeff’s Division Command office and the Army Behavioral Health clinic that failed to treat Jeff,” and “distributed flyers to every room of the Barracks on Fort Campbell.”
No doubt this matter is far from over.
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