Category Archives: Bring their Buddies Home
More horror from WaPo’s Dana Priest and Anne Hull on what our soldiers must deal with when they return mentally broken from Iraq. The full article can be read at the source linked above..and its worth every minute of your time.
Army Spec. Jeans Cruz helped capture Saddam Hussein. When he came home to the Bronx, important people called him a war hero and promised to help him start a new life. The mayor of New York, officials of his parents’ home town in Puerto Rico, the borough president and other local dignitaries honored him with plaques and silk parade sashes. They handed him their business cards and urged him to phone.
But a “black shadow” had followed Cruz home from Iraq, he confided to an Army counselor. He was hounded by recurring images of how war really was for him: not the triumphant scene of Hussein in handcuffs, but visions of dead Iraqi children.
In public, the former Army scout stood tall for the cameras and marched in the parades. In private, he slashed his forearms to provoke the pain and adrenaline of combat. He heard voices and smelled stale blood. Soon the offers of help evaporated and he found himself estranged and alone, struggling with financial collapse and a darkening depression.
At a low point, he went to the local Department of Veterans Affairs medical center for help. One VA psychologist diagnosed Cruz with post-traumatic stress disorder. His condition was labeled “severe and chronic.” In a letter supporting his request for PTSD-related disability pay, the psychologist wrote that Cruz was “in need of major help” and that he had provided “more than enough evidence” to back up his PTSD claim. His combat experiences, the letter said, “have been well documented.”
None of that seemed to matter when his case reached VA disability evaluators. They turned him down flat, ruling that he deserved no compensation because his psychological problems existed before he joined the Army. They also said that Cruz had not proved he was ever in combat. “The available evidence is insufficient to confirm that you actually engaged in combat,” his rejection letter stated.
Yet abundant evidence of his year in combat with the 4th Infantry Division covers his family’s living-room wall. The Army Commendation Medal With Valor for “meritorious actions . . . during strategic combat operations” to capture Hussein hangs not far from the combat spurs awarded for his work with the 10th Cavalry “Eye Deep” scouts, attached to an elite unit that caught the Iraqi leader on Dec. 13, 2003, at Ad Dawr.
Veterans Affairs will spend $2.8 billion this year on mental health. But the best it could offer Cruz was group therapy at the Bronx VA medical center. Not a single session is held on the weekends or late enough at night for him to attend. At age 25, Cruz is barely keeping his life together. He supports his disabled parents and 4-year-old son and cannot afford to take time off from his job repairing boilers. The rough, dirty work, with its heat and loud noises, gives him panic attacks and flesh burns but puts $96 in his pocket each day.
This is disgusting and it must stop now. The Military has recognized PTSD as an illness since 1980 for the love of GOD! May every bastard that denies these men and women care rot in hell. Support our troops, bring them home now!
Join us this Monday, Feb. 19th (Presidents’ Day)
Hwy 101 (Carlsbad Blvd) at Tamarack Ave, Carlsbad
Arrive 9 – 9:30 AM to sign & and get positioned,
Stand in silence 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Wear Black, No Signs
On Monday, Feb. 19th (President’s Day) hundreds of San Diego residents will come together in a collaborative effort to illustrate the tragic consequences of war and champion non-violent solutions to conflict, by being part of an Act of Art. You may remember that I organized a similar event in November 2005, the day after Thanksgiving.
The Bring Their Buddies Home Vigil will happen between 10:00 and 11:00 AM along Hwy 101 in Carlsbad, stretching north and south of Tamarack Ave. Everyone is invited to participate by standing in silence, dressed in black, with each person wearing a memorial page with the name of one of the fallen troops. The vigil is meant to declare, by our silent presence, that we honor the sacrifice of the U.S. troops who have died in Iraq and that it’s time to Bring Their Buddies Home.
Bring your family and friends – the larger the turnout, the more effective our message will be. Here is a non-confrontational way to show that you support our troops AND want to bring them home.
The Press is already giving this event great coverage. Today’s Local News covered it on the front page on Wednesday, and it was written up in the Union Tribune, Light Connection and Zengers. North County Time will have a stroy about it on Saturday. NPR & KPBS have called for interviews. This is going to be a historical event – please come be a part of it.
See www.BringTheirBuddiesHome.com for details. Call me, Jeeni Criscenzo, at 760-529-9809 if you have any questions.