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Combat Veteran with PTSD Diagnosis Surrendered at Ft Hood, TX: A Test of Pentagon's New Policy of "Compassion and Caring" for Combat Vets

Wade-2PFC Jacob Wade, 22, of Cortland, NY surrendered to the 1st Cavalry Division's B Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2d Brigade Combat Team, at Ft Hood on May 10, 2010. He was accompanied by Tod Ensign, a lawyer with Citizen Soldier, his mother, Laurie, and sister, Amelia, both of Cortland.

Wade returned with an extensive psychological evaluation, which had been prepared by Dr. William Cross, PhD of Syracuse, NY. Cross wrote that Wade suffered an acute breakdown and overwhelming fear when his two weeks of home-leave ended and he was scheduled to return for another six months of combat duty in Iraq. He also wrote that Wade suffers from other psychological disorders that go back to his teen years.

Ensign reported that the soldier and family had met with Wade's commander, LT COL. Sicoli, and other members of his staff, when Wade surrendered on base. "We told them that Jacob is worried about harassment or retaliation for his refusing to return to Iraq," Ensign said. "I told the colonel that we wanted his word that no harassment would be permitted and that the soldier would be processed out as quickly as possible.

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Jacob Wade with his family.

Three months ago, Defense Secretary Robert Gates installed a new Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, former Marine Major General Clifford Stanley. At the same time, Gates forced out two senior deputies, including one who has been overseeing the high priority programs which care for troops with mental and physical wounds from fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Stanley said that his goal was to make the Pentagon's vast personnel operation "more responsive, sensitive, and aware of our constituency." In the meantime, he is trying to "hold up a mirror of compassion and caring" to reflect a more welcoming face of the Pentagon's leadership.

Graduating from boot camp at Fort Benning. (Wade is encircled.)

Stanley said that his mandate from Secretary Gates was to "dissect the problem by taking a look at what programs and organizations are working, which are not and to identify necessary fixes as soon as possible."

The soldier also suffers from chronic injuries to his hips, legs, and joints as a result of his military service. He will seek evaluation of these problems by an orthopedic specialist once he returns to Ft Hood.

A soldier has a legal right under the Rules for Courts Martial (Sec. 706 (c) (2))to ask his command to convene a Sanity Board composed of mental health professionals who would determine, among other things, his present mental state. Dr. Cross has agreed to testify before this board.