Highlights

 
Quotable
The root of the evil is not the construction of new, more dreadful weapons. It is the spirit of conquest.
Ludwig von Mises
Original Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
July 7, 2007

Troubled Soldier Gets Demoted, Not Treated


by Jim Lobe

SAN FRANCISCO - Cody Miranda joined the U.S. Marine Corps when he was 17 years old. He loved the military and hoped to spend his entire career in the service.

Miranda has served more than 16 years in the Marine Corps. Over the years, he's been deployed to the Middle East six times, including stints in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

But when he returned from a tour in Iraq in 2003, his stepmother, Jodie Stewart, says, he was a changed man.

"He always used to be over focused on time as the military trains you to be," she said as an example. "He's never on time for anything anymore. I don't know how to explain it to you. How do you explain it when a man who used to behave one way has gone abstractly and profoundly different?"

After returning from Iraq, Cody Miranda divorced his wife and pulled away from his son. He started drinking too much and was found in possession of cocaine.

"He never received any of the post-deployment questionnaires that now are mandatory for all troops," said Amanda Newman, a licensed family therapist who's been seeing Miranda on a pro-bono basis for the past few weeks. "He couldn't understand why all of a sudden his life was falling apart."

In 2005, Miranda went absent without leave from Camp Pendleton in California for nearly a year and lived homeless on the street.

When he returned to the Marine Corps, military doctors diagnosed him with severe post-traumatic stress disorder; an anxiety illness that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A person having a flashback may lose touch with reality and believe that the traumatic incident is happening all over again.

Military doctors also diagnosed Miranda with bipolar disorder, insomnia, and sleep apnea.

But rather than give him treatment for his illness, the Marine Corps lowered his rank to private from staff sergeant, threw him in the brig multiple times (most recently for being five minutes late for a hearing), and began court-martial proceedings that can lead to a dishonorable discharge – which would have denied the medical benefits Miranda needs to get his life right again.

Newman said Miranda needs inpatient psychiatric care, which he is not receiving, and complained that her attempts to see him while in the brig were delayed as a result of military orders.

"I asked immediately to see him in the brig and was told that it was not possible," Newman wrote to Miranda's military lawyer on June 29. "This is absolutely unacceptable: if a Marine was experiencing a medical emergency and had cut an artery and was bleeding profusely, he surely would not be denied treatment simply because he was in the brig."

"In fact I would assume and hope that he would be transferred to the hospital for appropriate treatment. There is no difference regarding the severity and crisis nature of Pvt. Miranda's psychiatric condition and that of a medical condition: both are life-threatening," she wrote.

Officials at Camp Pendleton did not respond to multiple telephone and e-mail inquiries by deadline. Thirty-six hours after receiving a written request for information, a public affairs representative of the base told IPS: "I still don't have anything for you."

But public attention did appear to have an effect, however.

On Tuesday, after veterans' groups helped Miranda file formal complaints with California Congressman Ken Calvert and Sen. Barbara Boxer, Camp Pendleton's commander, Col. James B. Seaton, abandoned plans for a court-martial.

According to military defense lawyer Captain Bart Slabbekorn, Miranda was brought before the base commander July 3 and given "non-judicial punishment."

"As a result of today's proceedings, Pvt. Miranda may be retained in the Marine Corps or he may ultimately leave active duty," Slabbekorn wrote in a letter to supporters. "Either way, at this point, he will be looking at a discharge making him eligible for VA [Veterans Affairs] treatment down the road."

If Miranda does remain in the military, it's likely he will be assigned to the Wounded Warrior Battalion, where he would work with other soldiers facing similar issues.

"The future is up to Miranda," Slabbekorn said.

But Cody Miranda is not alone.

The Department of Defense's most recent mental health survey found about 20 percent of soldiers met screening criteria for a mental health problem and that there was a "linear relationship" between combat exposure and subsequent mental health problems. Nearly one-third of troops who had seen "high combat" met criteria for a mental health problem.

Slabbekorn told San Diego's KSUI television between 10 to 20 percent of soldiers imprisoned in Camp Pendleton's brig suffer from some kind of combat-related mental illness.

In the first four years of the Iraq war, 1,019 Marines were dismissed with less-than-honorable discharges for misconduct committed after overseas deployments. Navy Capt. William Nash, who coordinates the Marines' combat stress program, told USA Today this week that at least 326 of the discharged Marines showed evidence of mental health problems, possibly from combat stress.

Nash told the paper he hoped that "any Marine or sailor who commits particularly uncharacteristic misconduct following deployment … be aggressively screened for stress disorders and treated."

"If a Marine who was previously a good, solid Marine – never got in trouble – commits misconduct after deployment and turns out they have PTSD, and because of justice they lose their benefits, that may not be justice," Nash said.

The Marine Corps has yet to follow up on Nash's recommendations.

(Inter Press Service)


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • US Jews Open to Palestinian Unity Govt
    3/26/2009

  • Bipartisan Experts Urge 'Partnership' With Russia
    3/17/2009

  • Obama Administration Insists It's Neutral in Salvador Poll
    3/14/2009

  • NGOs Hail Congressional Moves to Ease Embargo
    3/12/2009

  • Call to 'Resist and Deter' Nuclear Iran Gains Key Support
    3/7/2009

  • Washington Ends Diplomatic Embargo of Syria
    3/4/2009

  • Diplomatic, Aid Spending Set to Rise Under Obama Budget
    2/28/2009

  • Many Muslims Reject Terror Tactics, Back Some Goals
    2/26/2009

  • Lugar Report Calls for New Cuba Policy
    2/24/2009

  • U.S.-Israel Storm Clouds Ahead?
    2/20/2009

  • Calls Mount for Obama to Appoint 'Truth Commission'
    2/20/2009

  • Washington's Praise of Venezuelan Vote Suggests D├ętente
    2/19/2009

  • Rightward Shift in Israeli Polls Creates New Headaches
    2/13/2009

  • US Advised to Back Somalia Reconciliation Efforts
    2/12/2009

  • Hawks Urge Boosting Military Spending
    2/5/2009

  • More Troops, More Worries,
    Less Consensus on Afghanistan
    2/4/2009

  • Report: Most Citizens Kept in Dark on Govt Spending
    2/2/2009

  • Obama Raises Hopes of
    Mideast Experts
    1/28/2009

  • Obama Picks Israel-Arab, Afghanistan-Pakistan Negotiators
    1/23/2009

  • Rights Groups Applaud Move to Halt Gitmo Trials
    1/22/2009

  • Obama Offers Internationalist Vision
    1/21/2009

  • Around the World, High Hopes for Obama
    1/20/2009

  • Liberals, Realists Set to Clash in Obama Administration
    1/19/2009

  • Obama Urged to Take Bold Steps Toward Cuba Normalization
    1/15/2009

  • Clinton Stresses 'Cooperative Engagement,' 'Smart Power'
    1/14/2009

  • Bush Foreign Policy Legacy Widely Seen as Disastrous
    1/14/2009

  • Networks' Int'l News Coverage at Record Low in 2008
    1/6/2009

  • Amnesty Calls on Rice to Drop 'Lopsided' Gaza Stance
    1/3/2009

  • Israeli Attack May Complicate Obama's Plans
    12/30/2008

  • Report: Recognizing Hamas Could Help Peace
    12/19/2008

  • Business Groups Support Dismantling Cuba Embargo
    12/8/2008

  • Mumbai Massacre Seen as Major Blow to Regional Strategy
    12/5/2008

  • Obama Urged to Quickly Engage Iran, Syria
    12/3/2008

  • Diplomacy, Multilateralism Stressed by Obama Team
    12/2/2008

  • Obama Foreign Policy: Realists to Reign?
    11/28/2008

  • Hemispheric Group Calls for Major Changes in Americas Policy
    11/25/2008

  • Greybeards Urge Overhaul of Global Governance
    11/21/2008

  • Intelligence Analysts See Multi-Polar, Risky World By 2025
    11/21/2008

  • Obama Urged to Strengthen Ties with UN
    11/20/2008

  • Obama-Tied Think-Tank Calls for Pakistan Shift
    11/18/2008

  • Obama Advised to Forgo More Threats to Iran
    11/17/2008

  • First, Close Gitmo,
    Say Rights Groups
    11/11/2008

  • Obama's Foreign Policy:
    No Sharp Break From Bush
    11/11/2008

  • Coca Cultivation Up Despite Six Years of Plan Colombia
    11/7/2008

  • Obama to Seek Global Re-engagement, But How Much?
    11/6/2008

  • Two, Three, Many Grand Bargains?
    11/3/2008

  • Moving Towards a 'Grand Bargain' in Afghanistan
    10/19/2008

  • Top Ex-Diplomats Slam 'Militarization' of Foreign Policy
    10/16/2008

  • Bush Set to Go With a Whimper, Not a Bang
    10/15/2008

  • Pakistan 'Greatest Single Challenge' to Next President
    10/8/2008

  • Senate Passes Nuke Deal Over Escalation Fears
    10/3/2008

  • Brief Talks With Syria Spur Speculation
    10/1/2008

  • Iran Resolution Shelved in Rare Defeat for AIPAC
    9/27/2008

  • Bipartisan Group Urges Deeper Diplomacy with Muslim World
    9/25/2008

  • White House Still Cautious on Georgia
    9/6/2008

  • US' Somalia Policy Likely to Bring Blowback
    9/4/2008

  • Iran Could Reap Benefits of U.S.-Russian Tensions
    8/28/2008

  • A Really Bad Couple of Weeks for Pax Americana
    8/24/2008

  • Success of Attack on Iran's Nuclear Program Doubtful
    8/9/2008

  • US Gets No Traction in the Middle East
    8/5/2008

  • Gates Strategy Stresses Unconventional Warfare
    8/1/2008

  • Air Force Think Tank Advises Against Iran Attack
    7/31/2008

  • Pakistani PM May Be Pincushion for U.S. Frustration
    7/26/2008

  • Realists Urge Bush to Drop Iran Precondition
    7/23/2008

  • McCain Knee-Capped by Maliki
    7/22/2008

  • Jim Lobe, works as Inter Press Service's correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau. He has followed the ups and downs of neo-conservatives since well before their rise in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2003 Antiwar.com