by Eric Ruder
November 30th, 2007
Brad Gaskins grew up in Orange, N.J., played starting quarterback for his high school football team and joined the U.S. Army at age 17. He had to wait for graduation before he could formally enter the military.
Today, Sgt. Gaskins’ life is in tatters. His dreams are haunted by visions of the dead bodies he saw in Iraq, he wakes from his nightmares drenched in sweat, his heart races, his mouth goes dry, he trembles, he has flashbacks, he feels cold.
And to make matters worse, two officers from the military’s Criminal Investigative Division and two local police arrested and handcuffed Gaskins on November 14 for going AWOL–hours before he was to voluntarily surrender to authorities at Fort Drum in Watertown, N.Y., and hours after base officials assured his civilian attorney he would be “treated sympathetically.”
Gaskins has been diagnosed with exceptionally severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression, according to an independent evaluation by civilian therapist Rosemary Masters. Another civilian doctor and two military doctors have also diagnosed PTSD.
What you can do Activists in the Watertown, N.Y., area will gather at the Different Drummer Café outside of Fort Drum on December 6 at 6:30 p.m. for a town hall meeting on PTSD.
During Gaskins’ first tour in Iraq, he eagerly served as part of the Third Infantry Division, the spearhead of the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Gaskins thought himself lucky to have a chance to serve his country. Then he began encountering the badly burned bodies of Iraqi victims of the U.S. military’s “shock and awe” bombing raids.
He still can’t shake those images from his head. During his evaluation with Masters, according to medical records, he confessed, “I hate to talk about it. I can see a picture as clear as if it was yesterday. I have it playing in my head right now. Am I crazy?”
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