Salem man who went AWOL will turn himself in at Army base.
Jeremy Crawford said that he did not get needed medicine.

by Alan Gustafon, published by Statesman Journal, May 26, 2006


Monday morning, he plans to board a Greyhound bus bound for Oklahoma City. Next, he will make his way to nearby Fort Sill, an Army outprocessing center, to turn himself in.

Crawford, 31, hopes for a swift discharge, but he knows that the Army could slap him with jail time or other punishment for going AWOL for seven weeks.

The Salem man is nervous about his fate.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I can’t sleep, and my stomach hurts. I’m really stressed about going back. Because of the newspaper and everything, I hope they don’t give me a harder time than they would anybody else.”

A May 18 Statesman Journal story about Crawford’s case triggered an outpouring of reaction on the newspaper’s Web site. Nearly 100 comments were posted. Many people blasted Crawford for going AWOL. Others expressed sympathy.

Crawford joined the Internet debate, defending his unauthorized departure.

“I wanted to let everyone know that I did not leave for any other reason but for anxiety and depression issues,” he wrote.

“I passed all the physical exams. I passed my rifle training. I wasn’t scared to go to war; it was something that was part of my job.

“I only left because I did not have the medication that I had been taking for the last eight years. If you have never suffered from anxiety and depression, you have no idea how hard it is without medication.”

Crawford said that he should not be punished for bolting from basic training. He alleges that he was set up to fail by an Army recruiter in Salem, who falsely assured him that he would receive medication for depression and anxiety.

At Fort Benning, Ga., he said, military personnel rebuffed his repeated requests for medication. They told him that they weren’t allowed to dispense mood-stabilizing drugs, he said.

Without medication, Crawford said that he felt like he was losing his mind. He fled from Fort Benning on April 8.

Now, the divorced father of three wants to put the episode to rest. He expects to reach Fort Sill on Wednesday night.

Crawford said that he is thankful for his father, who paid $210 for his bus fare.

Terry Crawford, a Navy veteran and retired Postal Service worker, hopes that his son gets lenient treatment from the Army.

“From what I’ve read, if everything goes well, he could be there less than a week,” he said. “But who knows? We can just hope and wait to see what happens.”