I would like to know why he was ordered into therapy. What were his symptoms? Irritability? Hyper-attentiveness? What? Did this "old soldier" frighten people in the chain of command above or around him. "Old soldiers" sometimes do that.
I would like to know what was said to SSGT Russell in that clinic. His father said that his son was threatened with the loss of his career, the loss of his way of life, with the loss of his identity as a soldier.
Today's professional US Army is inhabited by men and women whose lives have been altered forever by the experience of survival in circumstances very difficult for civilians to grasp. How does one communicate the stress of a life that threatens always and in which death is never far away either as a threat or as a personal capability?
Today's soldiers are going and coming from the wars so often that the wars have become their real home. As this article says, their supposed home lives are more and more being destroyed by their personal transitions.
The image that a lot of civilians have of the citizen-soldier who leaves his plow or pickup truck to go to the war one time and then returns to civilian life to be fussed over by mental health professionals does not fit the case of the career warriors we now have.
As this article mentions, it is the sergeants who are most affected. Officers go to schools between combat deployments. They have many opportunities for staff assignments, etc. Sergeants live in their units. They typically stay in their units between combat rotations. They often go back to combat with the same units time after time. How long had SSGT Russell been with that engineer battalion in Germany?
And you know what? It has to be that way. The career non-commissioned officers (sergeants) are the backbone of the units who fight wars or directly support those who do. If the United States is to have an army, an army that can provide teeth for its foreign policy and territorial defense, then such a force can not be constructed and maintained without combat experienced, hardened career sergeants. Militia type armies like those of Switzerland or Israel can be built that way, but no force that fights prolonged, intensive wars can exist without career NCOs.
I have some experience of the social sciences and mental health communities that set the agenda with regard to military mental health issues. It is now often said in those communities that the "stigma" that attaches in the military to mental health treatment must be eliminated so that soldiers like Russell will voluntarily seek treatment. Setting aside for the moment the issue of whether or not "old soldiers" would ever choose mental health treatment, one must consider the effect on the force of telling soldiers that what they do as their primary role in life and service inherently cripples them emotionally, damages their sanity severely and that the virtually inevitable end for them will be therapy for their service connected illness.
Then there is the issue of what the army would do with infantry, armor, aviation, engineer, etc. officers and sergeants who are treated for combat induced mental illness, i.e., they could not "handle" the stress of combat.
Would you put them back in command? In combat? If you can not do that, then where will you find officers and sergeants to replace them? Would you put a leader emerged from therapy back in command of a unit in which your brother, sister, son or daughter served? Would you want that? Really? pl