Dear Uncle Sam:
I know it’s been a rough week. I’m sure you’re grieving the lost of life at Fort Hood just like the rest of us, but I’m compelled to write you this letter. I hope you take it in the spirit in which it is meant.
I read an article at Salon.com today that made me wonder about your judgement. Since when did you stop listening to your doctors? The article was about Dr. Kernan Manion, a psychiatrist who wanted to help troops before they went postal on military bases. Uncle Sam, Dr. Manion use to work for you at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Then he got fired. Why did you give Dr. Manion the boot for stating the obvious? He pointed out that troops at Camp Lejeune are getting bullied by superiors and dumped into an overwhelmed mental health care system when they asked for psychiatric help.
Uncle Sam, people snap when they get pushed too far. I can attest to this fact because I work with the aftermath of battle as a psychiatric nurse. We have an overwhelming problem within our military, and this isn’t just about Camp Lejeune and Fort Hood. Do you remember Sgt. John Russell who gunned down five fellow soldiers at a military mental health facility in Baghdad early this year? You turned a deaf ear to Dr. Manion when he tried to help our troops. You declined to listen to his diagnosis. If you don’t want to hear it from a doctor, maybe you’ll listen to a nurse. Bad things happen when you don’t take good care of your people. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you need to trust me on this. More people will die at the hands of their comrades if you don’t start listening to people like Dr. Manion.
Sincerely, Mother Jones, RN