Eric Jasinski jailed for not deploying to Iraq — (Courage to Resist Newsletter)

SSRI Ed note: Soldier given trazodone and Zoloft for PTSD told to deploy to Iraq, he refusesF.

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Courage to Resist Newsletter

By Harper Scott Clark, Temple Daily Telegram (Texas)

April 1, 2010

A Fort Hood soldier who failed to deploy with his unit to Iraq in December 2007 will spend at least 27 days in the Bell County jail. Spc. Eric Jasinski pled guilty Wednesday to a charge of desertion at his court martial on Fort Hood, said his attorney James Branum. The sentence is 30 days in jail, 27 days for good behavior, Branum  said. He also was reduced in rank to private first class and had pay and  benefits docked for two-thirds of one month. (Photo: Robyn Schultz and Margaret Hayes rally in support of Eric at Fort Hood following the court martial.)

Branum said mitigating circumstances that included a diagnosis of  post  traumatic stress syndrome after a tour to Iraq in 2006 made Jasinski  decide he would not deploy.

Branum said he petitioned the court  to suspend the sentence and it was  denied as was a deferral in which Jasinski would serve the sentence at a  later date.

He was seeing a psychiatrist for his condition and  prescribed Zoloft for depression and Trazadone to get to sleep, and they handed him his gun and told him to go back to Iraq,” Branum said.

“Serving  time in jail doesn’t serve any purpose in his case,” Branum said. “And  he may be denied his medications and treatments he has undergone the last five weeks at Darnall Hospital. It’s likely he will undergo another mental breakdown in jail.”

The convening  authority for Jasinski’s court martial could not be reached for comment.

A  group from the Under the Hood Coffee House, the war protest  organization on Second Street in Killeen, marched at the corner of Fort  Hood Street and Rancier outside the East Gate to Fort Hood after the  verdict was read.

Jasinski’s parents, Michael and Laura Barrett,  were there.

“This has been a total outrage,” she said. “I cannot  believe my son who is diagnosed with PTSD from his deployment to Iraq  would be sent to jail.”

She said a unit official had told her last  year that Jasinski, who held a desk job in intelligence, was not  exposed to shocking incidents that would cause PTSD.

“It was  classified and he never talked about it to us,” she said. “But today in  open court he said the interrogation methods meant wiring car batteries  to the testicles of 15-year-old boys to make them talk.”

Michael  Barrett said his stepson testified that he viewed intelligence videos  that showed insurgents beheading American captives.

“He said the  screams and sounds of a person having their head cut off was the most  horrible thing he had ever heard and he cannot sleep now,” Barrett said.

Branum  said in theory the jail is supposed to get Jasinski to appointments  with his counselors, but that hasn’t happened often with other cases he  has handled.

“At Fort Carson I’ve had cases where the soldiers had  serious medical issues and were denied the basic medicines,” Branum  said. “Some went without for months.”

Branum said in some ways he  is happy with the way things went during the trial. “It could have been  much worse.”

He said sometimes a command will initiate Article 10  proceedings to discharge a soldier in Jasinski’s position with an  other-than-honorable discharge. “He has a medical discharge request in  the pipeline and I hope he can proceed with that. An  other-than-honorable could keep him from his benefits. It’s totally up  to the command.”

Jasinski gave himself up to Army authorities at  Fort Hood on Dec. 19 after being absent without leave (AWOL) almost a  year to the day from the time his unit — 1st cavalry, 3rd Brigade — left  for deployment to Iraq.

Jasinski told the Telegram in December he  joined the Army after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because he wanted  to serve his country. After a year of training as a military analyst he  found his home with the 1st Cavalry.

In mid-2006 Jasinski deployed  with 1st Cav to the Diyala Province northeast of Baghdad. His wife left  him just before he left for Iraq. Later, his unit’s deployment was  extended three months until Christmas 2007. Fighting was heavy in the  province and the Cav lost 487 soldiers during its stay.

Jasinksi  said after returning home he began abusing alcohol and was overwhelmed.  He said nightmares and sleepless nights plagued him, and he tended  toward flashes of hot anger alternating with depression. He also was  diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome and was prescribed Zoloft  for depression and Trazadone for sleep, and was seeing a psychiatrist  twice a month. Jasinski said he was holding out until his Army contract  ended in February 2009.

But in August 2008 Jasinski told him the  Army was holding him in under stop loss — a term that means a soldier’s  contract has been involuntarily extended. His new end date was March  2010.

In the meantime he was notified he would be deployed again  to Iraq in December 2008. In November he took leave and went to spend it  with his parents in Arkansas. He did not return to deploy with his unit.  During the year away he found a civilian job. He came back voluntarily  to Fort Hood when his unit returned from Iraq in December 2009. During  his time at Fort Hood, Jasinski has been enrolled in a group therapy  program for soldiers diagnosed with PTSD at the Carl R. Darnall Army  Medical Center.

Donate to Eric’s defense fund: Write Eric in jail at: Eric Jasinski; 113 West Central Ave; Belton TX 76513