(FinalCall.com) – Vernelda Taylor-Harris is fighting mad about the tragedies at Ft. Hood, the tragedy that happened in early November with Major Nidal Hassan who is accused of killing 13 people and the tragedy with her daughter, PFC Sophia Taylor, while stationed at Ft. Hood.
“My daughter was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) while she was deployed in Iraq. She broke down and was medivaced to Ft. Hood for treatment. They did not treat her at all. In fact they just threw her under the bus. The military has no compassion for people with PTSD,” she told The Final Call.
“I’m not surprised Dr. Hassan crumbled the way he did. He couldn’t take it anymore and just snapped. The military doesn’t care about people with mental issues or PTSD. Look at the records of people dealing with this illness. Look at the growing number of suicides. It’s crazy and these people are not getting the treatment they need.”
Major Hassan was not diagnosed with PTSD but was preparing to deploy. He has been formally charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder for an alleged Nov. 5 rampage that also injured some 30 people on the base. He is recuperating from gunshot wounds that have left him paralyzed from the waist down. Speculation has ranged from suspicions that Maj. Nadal lashed out because he was angry over U.S. wars with Muslims to questions about whether he simply cracked under stress.
The National Institute for Mental Health defines PTSD as “an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.”
PFC Taylor thought she was prepared for the war in Iraq.
“I tried to keep my mind focused by going to church but I was having issues, nightmares, sweats, not eating or sleeping. I went to my command for help. After that everything started falling apart. The good soldier became someone who broke down. I went to combat stress and the doctors suggested I be medivaced out of Iraq.”
“I was supposed to get help but that never happened. They just sent me back to work but the problems started getting worse. The more I tried to get treatment, the worse the Army treated me. Everyone turned their back on me and I was getting worse,” she told The Final Call.
Things got so bad that PFC Taylor was locking herself in a bathroom and rapidly deteriorating. Finally she was sent to a psychiatrist.
“His exact words to me were, ‘I’m sorry I can’t diagnose you because the Army wants you out.’ I started crying and became even more depressed. I called my mother. I took myself to the emergency room and was given medication to help me sleep and 48 hours to recuperate,” she said.
But those 48 hours was interpreted by the military as a suicide attempt and she was forcefully put on suicide watch.
“I thought I was going to die at Ft. Hood. I told my mom to plan my funeral. I knew I was going to die there. She kept telling me to hold on that she was going to get me out of there. I requested being moved to another base, anything, but everything was refused.”
Mrs. Taylor-Harris was distraught.
“I felt like I was getting my daughter out of the teeth of a lion. She was on suicide watch so I went through the Red Cross to find her. The Army is not happy until they break you. I finally contacted Sgt. Charles Eggleston of the Blue Star Families who was an angel and helped me call the Pentagon and people on Capital Hill to get my daughter brought to Walter Reed.”
For Sgt. Eggleston, PFC Taylor’s case was nothing knew.
“At Fort Hood they don’t have the same kind of awareness we have here. We’re close to senators and congressmen who can force the military to do their job. They know what I say is real. I had to plead my case,” he told The Final Call.
Sgt. Eggleston was injured up in Iraq and not only suffered PTSD but also a Traumatic Brain Injury. He also had to fight the military system for help and was influential in exposing the Walter Reed lack of treatment for soldiers’ scandal.
“Sophia’s a psych patient. She lost it in combat. She wasn’t made to blow stuff up. It’s all about the dollars and cents in the military. They would rather people be psychotic than treat them for war wounds. I thought we were done with this after the Walter Reed scandal but we’re not.”
Chuck Luther started Disposable Soldiers to help people just like PFC Sophia Taylor. He was at Ft. Hood and helped get her out.
“As soon as you get brought home if you haven’t lost a limb be ready for the taunting, harassment and humiliation. It’s the complete failure of the Army leadership to take care of us when we break. They treated her like a prisoner instead of getting her help,” he told The Final Call.
“I reached out to senior chains of command and the next thing I knew she was being flown to Walter Reed. I was kicked out of the Army because of PTSD. I handle cases from all over the country. The military mental health system is broke.”
Were things better for PFC Taylor when she got to Walter Reed?
“I was happy to go to Walter Reed but it’s just the same. It sickens me to come here every day. It’s not the home of the warrior care, maybe if you’re an amputee. I lost my mind at war. Does anyone care?”