The shameful story of how the U.S. Army has played a role in the mistreatment of traumatized soldiers who served in Iraq, then returned to Fort Carson, Colo., to commit rapes, murders and other violent crimes.
Colorado Springs Gazette features writer Philipps grew up in Colorado Springs, the locale of Fort Carson. Earlier this decade, he began to learn about the post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) suffered by thousands of returning Army infantrymen who both saw and committed atrocities in Iraq. (The same phenomenon is unfolding among American soldiers returning from Afghanistan, but that is not the focus here.) The author looks at soldiers from one specific combat team, some of whom dubbed themselves “the lethal warriors,” patterned loosely on the now-famous Band of Brothers from World War II. As the book opens in December 2007, a Colorado Springs newspaper carrier finds one of the PTSD-disabled soldiers, Kevin Shields, dead on the street. Somebody murdered Shields, but at first police and Fort Carson authorities could not identify a viable suspect. It turns out that Shields’ colleagues from Iraq killed their comrade. Some of the rampaging Fort Carson personnel had built up criminal records before joining the military, but others had not, and certainly none had been previously convicted of a violent crime. Philipps names names as he demonstrates an entire military chain of command in denial about the very existence of PTSD. The few commanders who would acknowledge the problem refused to institute meaningful treatment or safeguards to protect innocent bystanders from assaults. However, the author does identify one military hero from the PTSD realm—Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, who took charge of Fort Carson and supported treatment programs that have reduced the carnage in Colorado Springs.
A searing exposé that might make readers wonder how Army commanders and civilian warmongers sleep at night given the disgraceful handling of traumatized veterans who fought in Iraq.