I’m terribly disappointed with the Nov. 16 article targeting Brig. Gen. James H. Doty and his staff at Fort Carson, Colo., for unfair handling of misconduct cases among soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (“ ‘Teaching these kinds of soldiers a lesson’ ”).
The article seems to advocate separate conduct standards for soldiers wounded with PTSD. As very real and tragic PTSD is, tolerating separate conduct standards for our wounded soldiers is akin to giving up on them. It is the social equivalent of fencing them off or culturally quarantining them from their fellow soldiers who continue to follow the rules and face consequences when they don’t.
Accepting separate conduct standards for our wounded, even PTSD wounded, would devastate the morale of those soldiers struggling to stay on track in spite of their injuries and those who continue to face those risks. It would send the message that we don’t care as much about our wounded as we do our “healthy” soldiers; that somehow they don’t rate equal process under the Uniform Code of Military Justice; that they are mentally or morally incapable of standing up to the same Army values and conduct standards we expect of all warriors, wounded or otherwise.
The article implies Fort Carson soldiers face harsher treatment than soldiers in other commands who are allowed to remain on duty in spite of failing multiple drug tests. Misconduct by any other name is still misconduct. Part of leading and caring for soldiers, all of them, wounded or otherwise, is maintaining order and discipline in the ranks. Brig. Gen. Doty should be commended for recognizing this and for upholding standards of conduct despite political and media pressure to compromise. Should we really expect him to lower conduct standards at Fort Carson just because other commanders tolerate lower standards and misconduct in their ranks?
As far as heeding the counsel of his staff judge advocate and weighing recommendations of the soldiers’ commanders goes, it’s a poor senior leader who ignores such advice in these cases. The soldiers themselves, on advice from their lawyers, requested Title 10 discharge to avoid UCMJ. Brig. Gen. Doty took the advice of his staff, the soldiers’ commands and honored their requests.
The article laments this as a lack of “compassion” in the Fort Carson cases. Citing Lt. Col. John Morris and Brig. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland in another article in this same issue (“At home, troops find more pity than respect”), our wounded warriors “are not victims.” Excusing subpar conduct among our wounded soldiers because of their injuries is to pity them. It reduces their valor to victimization and sends the wrong message to them, their comrades and the rest of our nation.
Lt. Col. David L. Phillips
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait
No difference in responses
Regarding the Nov. 23 Los Angeles Times editorial “Too bad Paterno didn’t respond as Abrams did”: How does this stuff get in the paper? Doesn’t an editor read it first? The headline says one thing and the column says something else.
According to the column, both people reported what they knew to their “highers.” In [director J.J.] Abrams’ case, his higher, Paramount Pictures, told the cops. [Then-Penn State football coach Joe] Paterno’s higher, the school’s athletic director and chancellor, didn’t. But the editorial states that if Paterno “had been equally conscientious, his reputation and job would remain intact.” Huh?
Hidden in there somewhere — without an iota of evidence — is the implication that Abrams would have taken further action if it had been necessary.