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In response to the Sept. 18 article “What’s Happening at Lewis-McChord?”: I would like to further ask the question of commanders: What is happening in your unit while deployed? If the soldier is traumatized to the point that we must defer his post-deployment leave, then why could we not recognize the signs and symptoms of his condition earlier and redeployed him home before the end of the tour?

The one thing a deployed soldier looks forward to is time away from the job and not being around the same people we see face to face almost every minute of every day. If someone has become so dependent on this structure that he cannot function without it, then I ask: Who let it get to that point?

We all want to succeed in the missions given to us by our superiors. No one wants to fail. I put to commanders that your first priority should be to your soldiers/sailors/Marines/airmen and their families and the mission should be second. If you do that, you will find the first priority will take care of the second. If you put the mission above all else, the servicemembers and families will be pushed aside.

Don’t rely upon midtour leave to “reset” your troops, as it is only a short break away from the mission. Get help for those who need it and realize that the help some will require may send them home early.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Chris Westbrook

Contingency Operating Base Basra, Iraq

Confidentiality will continue

In two front-page articles eight days apart (“Civilian sex assault reporting policy ends as DOD considers expanding it worldwide,” Sept. 8, and “Sex assault reporting program evaluated,” Sept. 16), Stars and Stripes highlighted the end of U.S. Army Europe’s six-month restricted reporting pilot program that provided civilian beneficiaries of military health care the option of confidentiality when reporting a sexual assault without triggering a criminal investigation. The good news is that on Sept. 15, the vice chief of staff of the Army approved USAREUR’s request to extend this pilot program.

To file a restricted report of a sexual assault, health care beneficiaries must contact one of three confidential resources: a sexual assault response coordinator, a unit victim advocate or a health care provider.

This pilot program is another step in demonstrating that civilians, family members and Department of Defense contractors are members of the USAREUR team — and they should know that they will receive the same level of care, dignity and respect when facing a sexual assault.

Rosalind Dennis

USAREUR Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program manager

Heidelberg, Germany

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