Saturday, December 23, 2006


this is a great christmas present for mr fernandez and his family. the army finally stepped up and did the right thing. let's hope they treat ALL of the 'unfit for duty' cases with care, concern, understanding and compassion

Veteran Excused From Iraq

By LISA CHEDEKEL Courant Staff Writer December 22 2006
An Iraq war veteran from Waterbury who was called back to duty despite a diagnosis of severe post-traumatic stress disorder has been exempted from returning to combat and released from the military.Damian Fernandez, 24, who became suicidal and was hospitalized after receiving orders last month to prepare for another deployment to Iraq, has been excused from reporting to duty Jan. 14 and discharged altogether from the Army's ready reserve, according to a letter Thursday from the Army's Human Resources Command.After Fernandez's case was recently featured in The Courant, U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal asked the Army to grant him an exemption.Fernandez's mother, Mary Jane Fernandez, said she received the letter and a personal call Thursday from Col. Robert T. Marsh, commander of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, notifying her that her son was being released from the military. She said she was relieved that Damian, who has been in a lockdown unit at the Northampton VA Medical Center in Massachusetts since receiving his call-up orders, would no longer have to worry about being sent back to war."Now that he knows he'll never have to go back, maybe he can finally start to get better," Mary Jane Fernandez said of her son, who suffers from paranoia, flashbacks and depression and has been deemed 70 percent disabled with PTSD by the Department of Veterans Affairs.Fernandez is one of about 8,200 inactive soldiers who have been ordered back to duty involuntarily, under a controversial policy that allows the military to recall troops who have been discharged from the service but have time remaining on their enlistment contracts. Some of those being recalled have PTSD and other mental health problems, raising alarm among families and veterans' advocates.Army officials say they have no system for checking the medical status of inactive soldiers with the VA before sending out the call-up letters, because the VA and the military do not share medical records. Instead, the onus is on mentally ill or otherwise disabled soldiers to alert the military to their conditions and seek exemptions.....

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