27 Sep 2010

After Iraq: the soldiers’ stories

With 20 per cent of US soldiers who served in Iraq suffering from combat stress disorder, Channel 4 News correspondent Kylie Morris meets America’s wounded warriors at the US Military base Fort Hood.

Wounded Warriors: More from Fort Hood (Getty)

Master Sergeant Orlando Garcia
Master Sergeant Orlando Garcia was a 1st Sergeant in the 18th Cavalry Division based in Iraq. He entered the Warrior Transition Brigade in July 2008 suffering from intense PTSD and a serious spinal injury.

Sgt Garcia told Channel 4 News he believed his mental health issues began after he lost six of his colleagues to an IED attack in Iraq, and two more very shortly afterwards.

He said he felt huge guilt that he could have done more to save them. On his return to United States, he realised his experiences had affected his memory, and he suffered from depression.

One day he forgot to pick his daughter from cheer practice and realised he needed help. He has been in the unit at Fort Hood for more than two years.

Soldier X
Soldier X is a patient at the Warrior Transition Unit in Fort Hood. He served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Feedom.

He was assigned to the Warrior Transition Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas after sustaining a physical injury and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Soldier X told us he wanted to speak out about the problems he had faced getting proper care at the Warrior Transition Brigage. He asked that we hide his identity because he feared retribution from senior officers for speaking out.

Soldier X spoke about the delays in seeing doctors, a sense of despair in the unit and a military culture that emphasised discipline over care.

Combat stress: Iraq shook hits US troops
One in five US soldiers who served in Iraq are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Read more

Maxine Trent
Maxine Trent is a private psychotherapist who is working with distressed soldiers in Killeen, the town that borders Fort Hood in Texas.

She comes from a military family and is married to a former Navy SEAL. Her clinic has seen over 7,000 soldiers, spouses and their children since it opened in 2008.

The clinic was started using a $795,000 private which came from a private donor in California. Trent says mental health provision in the army and in the community outside Fort Hood is streatched to breaking point.

She blames the military’s strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan of rapid successive deployments which does not give soldiers returning from battle sufficient time to process their experiences before being sent back to the war zone.

The project
This project is the first ever co-production between Channel 4 News’s Washington Bureau and the American broadcaster PBS. Channel 4 News and the PBS Newshour began work on the story in July of 2010.

The film was shot by award-winning Channel 4 News Washington Cameraman Dai Baker, and reported by Kylie Morris for Channel 4 News and Ray Suarez, the Senior Correspondent for the PBS Newshour.

It was produced by Channel 4 News Washington Producer Job Rabkin and Dan Sagalyn, a Senior Producer for Foreign Affairs and Defence at the Newshour. Both programmes produced their own versions of the story.

Click the link to watch the PBS report on the Warrior Transition Units at Fort Hood