By Eric Jasinski, Iraq veteran. Updated April 27, 2010
Eric recently served a month in a county jail for going AWOL in order to seek help for his serious PTSD. Select "Read more" below for Eric’s open letter from jail (released verbatim).
Since entering the jail I feel my mental state is greatly declining. I do have access to my medication (zoloft, seraquil, periactim, ambien) but even my medication is beginning to have no effect. Even after taking a seraquil all day and then taking 200 mg of seraquil and ambien, I still can’t fall asleep. I sleep on and off throughout the day and night and when I am in isolation mode (I suffer from severe anxiety and social isolation from chronic PTSD), I cannot get any privacy to wind myself down. The thin plastic mattress on my steel bunk makes my insomnia that much worse.
When I am taken out of jail back to Fort Hood for any appointments I am led around in handcuffs and ankle shackles in front of crowds of soldiers in the offices I am going to, which is overwhelming on my mind. My guilt from treating prisoners in Iraq sub-human and I did things to them and watched my unit do cruel actions against prisoners, so being humiliated like that forces me to fall into the dark spiral of guilt. I now know what it feels like to have no rights and have people stare and judge based on your shackles and I feel even more like a monster cause I used to do this to Iraqi people.
Even worse is the fact that this boils down to the military failing to treat my PTSD but I am being punished for it when I got to the R&R center on Fort Hood on 8 April because I felt like I was entering a crisis that landed me in the mental ward, on Fort Hood for 21 days in December 2009. I was told to wait until Monday 12 April and not do anything dumb by a psychiatrist. I feel as if I am being a threat to others or myself and still the Army mental health professional blow me off just like in 2009 when I felt like I had no choice but to go AWOL, since I received a 5 minute mental evaluation and was stop-lossed despite my PTSD, and was told that they could do nothing for me. The insufficient mental evaluation from a doctor I had never seen before, combined with the insufficient actions by the doctor on 9 April show the Army is not trying to make progress. The Army is simply trying to label us as outcasts and put together useless programs for public relations just like Vietnam.
I have tried to "do the right thing" as those in the Army say and all they do in return is destroy me even more mentally and publicly say that they are going to look out for me while behind closed doors the exact opposite is happening. The Army works off of a "good ole boy"
system and I have fallen out of the graces of the machine. So I have been tossed in the trash just like the brave and honorable resisters of Vietnam. The machine never stops and it never changes.
Member of Iraq Veterans Against the War
DISCLAIMER: To comply with military regulations, all statements below are the opinion of Eric Jasinski. They do not reflect the views of the U.S. Army.
By James M. Branum, Civilian defense attorney
Eric wrote me this open letter while in the Bell County jail and asked that I share it with the public.
I had been sitting for the last week, hoping against hope that the authorities at Fort Hood would DO THE RIGHT THING. It is now April 20th and they have yet to act on our very reasonable clemency request (submitted 14 days ago). Our request was simple, either release Eric early on mental health grounds or transfer him to the Psych ward at Darnell Army Medical Center to complete his sentence.
Based on Fort Hood’s decision to ignore Eric Jasinksi while he is suffering in jail, I am now publishing his statement. It is verbatim what Eric wrote in his own handwriting while in jail. (I left the grammar issues intact so you could see how upset and raw his emotions were when he wrote this.)
Please share this statement with everyone you know. We as Americans need to see how combat vets are being treated today. Eric is in jail he has PTSD and was denied the care he needed. His "desertion" was an act of desperation, the act of soldier who had no other options.
His incarceration is black mark of shame on Fort Hood, the US Army and our nation.