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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: couragetoresist.org/eric Write Eric in jail at: Eric Jasinski; 113 West Central Ave; Belton TX 76513