I consider myself very fortunate to have the advocacy of USJAG. Since before my discharge from the Army in 2009, I have been guided and counseled with unending devotion to a positive outcome for my future. Through USJAG, I was introduced to a veteran’s cycling organization whose goal was to replace the wounds of war with a healthy environment and the camaraderie of other fellow veterans. USJAG made it possible for me to obtain treatment for my TBI, through their association with Rocky Mountain Hyperbaric Center. This medical treatment was made available due to private financial aid arranged through USJAG. USJAG is a veteran’s organization which I can proudly say is dedicated to improving the lives of veterans. —Michael Hugh Walker
My name is Jess Seiwert, a medically retired a Army Staff Sergeant who was injured in a roadside bomb ambush in 2006. After being discharged for TBI and PTSD, I became addicted to pain pills and alcohol in addition to fighting a battle with depression. A series bad choices eventually led me to prison. During my incarceration and after the USAG Reps fought hard to get me into the right programs for treatment with PTSD, alcohol, and drugs. USAG Rep. Robert Alvarez actually picked me up from prison when I was released and took me to meet family. Because of their efforts I have now completed six months of inpatient treatment with the VA and have completely turned my life around, am enrolled in college and have found a new level of happiness I never thought possible.
Sergeant First Class Emil Wojcik (Combat Infantry Badge, National Defense Service Ribbon, Operation Iraqi Freedom Campaign Medal, Purple Heart, Bronze Star with “V” for Valor) served with the United States Army Special Forces, 10th Mountain Group. He became a Green Beret in 2005 and from that date to 2013 he deployed more than a dozen times to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. As a team leader in a unit considered among the best of the best, Wojick had seen his share of combat. In 2013, following the death by suicide of a team member and a near-fatal car crash, Sergeant First Class Wojick came apart. He was charged with an act of domestic violence which he could not remember. The Army stripped him of his Special Forces tab and began the process of discharge, without benefits or compensation. Due to the intercession of USJAG this wounded warrior will receive his benefits and medical retirement from the United States Army with his dignity and his due restored.
Staff Sergeant Eric James (Combat Action Badge, National Defense Service Ribbon, Operation Iraqi Freedom Campaign Medal) served two tours as a Sniper with the United States Army in Iraq. In 2011, he was pulled over and arrested on a drunk-driving charge. That was the end-marker. Following his last deployment, he had experienced serious readjustment issues stemming from combat-related psychological trauma he sustained in Iraq. As in the cases of thousands of other veterans, the Army considered tossing him out on charges of misconduct. James made hours of recordings with Army Psychiatrics and Therapists at Ft. Carson and later turned those over to National Public Radio (NPR) and Colorado Public Radio (CPR) which led to a well-publicized investigation into the misconduct discharges of over 22,000 Army combat veterans.
Sgt. Jerrald Jensen (Combat Action Badge, Operation Enduring Freedom Campaign Medal, Operation Iraq Freedom Campaign Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Ribbon) joined the Army in
2004. After completing his training, he was stationed with the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry at Ft. Carson. Soon thereafter, he deployed to Iraq. On August 22, 2007 his vehicle was hit by an EFP, ramming metal through his knee and face. He pulled his vehicle of the road and engaged the enemy and was shot. Severely wounded, he was evacuated. So deformed that his wife didn’t recognize him, his recovery was long and painful. For ten weeks he was kept in an induced coma and his prognosis was not good—the presiding physician predicted he would be a vegetable. In 2008, following a slate of reconstructive surgeries, Jensen reported that he wanted to go back into combat. His commanding officer approved his request and he reported for training still wearing a feeding tube. Six months later, he re-deployed to Afghanistan. In a fall he re-broke the titanium Implants in his jaw and, on his mid-tour return home, he went back into the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU). One night in October, 2011, Jensen went into a civilian hospital and he was told that a CAT scan had revealed he needed an immediate procedure (within 72 hours). Failure to intercede might have led to permanent paralysis. The WTU Medical staff said it would take 6 weeks to schedule the procedure. His wife called and screamed at the staff. The staff averred that she was on drugs and unstable and reprimanded Jensen for his inability to control his wife.
The Army tried to kick this soldier to the curb. “They fail to realize what guys are going through, because none of them has ever set foot in another country,” said Matt Bessler, a nine-tour retired Special Forces sergeant with three bronze stars who was in the WTU with Jensen for PTSD. “They should be helping. I just don’t think they get it
Another client of the organization is Sergeant Paul Sasse (Combat Action Badge, National Defense Service Ribbon, Operation Iraqi Freedom Campaign Medal, Purple Heart) When Sasse joined the Army in 1999 at age 19 he was fulfilling a life-long aspiration and continuing a family tradition–his stepfather had reached the rank of Sergeant Major. In 2004 he was deployed to Afghanistan as an Infantryman. In 2006 he joined the First Special Forces Group and deployed to Iraq in 2007. On May 9, 2007 Sasse’s Humvee was hit and he was knocked unconscious, suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that was later diagnosed. He was subsequently assigned to the 10th Group Special Forces at Ft. Carson in 2010 where an Army physician cleared him for a third deployment to Iraq.
Upon his return to Ft. Carson in 2011 his life began to unravel. His wife left him, taking his two daughters with her. He was prescribed medications for ADD (Adderall) and Anxiety Disorder (Trazadone). He was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and TBI and transferred to the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) in 2012. His downward spiral continued and on July 3,,, 2013 he was involved in a domestic incident with his wife and was arrested by the El Paso Police Department and taken to the County Correctional facility. Sasse’s JAG attorney requested that he be transferred to a psychiatric facility for treatment and that criminal charges be dropped, but the base Commander refused. USJAG interceded on this soldier’s behalf, averting a Chapter 10 Discharge.
Sgt. Dennis Tackett was yet another multiple tour soldier stationed at Ft. Carson and his story was widely covered in the national media. He joined the military Army at 19 and did his first deployment in Afghanistan. Following this deployment the Army diagnosed him with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He deployed again in 2007, this time to Iraq and did a third tour, also in Iraq, in 2009. In a familiar litany of treatment within the military he was prescribed a wide variety of drugs to manage the symptoms variously diagnosed as PTSD, Adjustment Disorder and Depression. His drinking increased and his readjustment issues were apparent to those in contact with him. In 2011, he punched a civilian he did not know well and the Army began separation proceedings. At the behest of a party involved in his evaluation and treatment, USJAG got involved. He was again diagnosed with PTSD and also a Traumatic Brain Injury. The Staff of USJAG pointed out that he could not be discharged (chaptered out) until the his diagnosis and the relation of that diagnosis to his justice contact had been fully resolved. The Base Commander at Ft. Carson, together with others in leadership engaged in retributive actions, ultimately banning both Andrew Pogany and Robert Alvarez of USJAG from the base Ultimately, Tackett was given a General Discharge from service, losing access to some post-service benefits including access to VA Healthcare for at least one year after the ending of his term of service.
SSG Cory Griffin served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a CAV soldier. He served additional deployments out of the United States. By all accounts, Cory was a great soldier. Following his return to the States he struggled and fought a bout with both PTSD, a possible Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and also with alcohol. In what many believed was a classic instance of a combat-related flashback, Cory accidentally shot a fellow soldier at his residence, wounding him in the thumb. His Chain-of-Command, including the Commanding General at Ft. Carson, recognized what had transpired and he was medically retired from the Army. However, an over-zealous prosecutor, a less than satisfactory defense attorney and Cory was ultimately sentenced to 8 years in prison. Many who watched this case closely and those who know Cory well felt that this was a true miscarriage of justice. Despite pleas from multiple veterans advocates, USJAG, his family and many active duty soldiers who served with Cory he refused entry into the Colorado Veterans Treatment Court and sent to prison. He left behind a pregnant wife who stuck with him through multiple deployments and a loving family. We’ve seen justice and this definitely wasn’t an instance when it was carried out.
SSG Lewis T. Foutch. On Monday, April 25, 2016 he was separated from service with a General Discharge at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. He served with the D. Company, 2nd Battalion, Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). The unit is part of the Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC, the most elite soldiers the US military has to offer. These are the guys they make movies about. SSG served a total of seven combat tours in Afghanistan for a total of 17 months. He served additional combat deployments for a total of 11 months, but the nature of those deployments is classified—we don’t know exactly where he went, but we can be sure the destinations were harrowing. During the course of his service he was awarded the Army Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, 3 Army Achievement Medals, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, NATO Medal and a Combat Action Badge (CAB). Foutch was a first-tier soldier. During the course of one of his last deployments in Afghanistan he was in close proximity to the detonation of a 4000-9000 pound Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBID). SSG Foutch experienced disciplinary issues and interaction with civilian justice systems. Rather than being medically processed for separation he was given a General Discharge from service, rendering him ineligible for a range of benefits and services. In addition, he left the service owing money–having to repay his reenlistment bonus. This is how many combat soldiers who incur injuries fare if they experience problems after their return home.