10 December 2007
Sgt. Evan Vela, of the
501st Infantry Regiment, sits tonight in a military prison in Kuwait.
Confined since July 1, Vela is one of three Army snipers charged with
murder for an incident near Iskandariyah, Iraq.
Two squadmates involved
in the incident, Sgt. Hensley and Spc. Sandoval, were exonerated of
murder charges in courts martial this past fall.
soldier, Sgt. Vela was pushed beyond the limits of human endurance,
going days without sleep in pursuit of our enemy in Iraq. While in
confinement, Vela was diagnosed with moderate to severe Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder. Despite this diagnosis by a military psychiatrist,
the government has been unwilling to allow the sergeant the treatment
he needs before he stands trial.
government has a chance to make amends.
Rosemary Carr-Malone has petitioned authorities to transfer Sgt. Vela
to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Dr Carr-Malone is Assistant
Director of the Mental Health Directorate at the National Naval
Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. As forensic psychiatrist for the
defense, she has coordinated for Sgt. Vela to be received at Walter
Reed to be treated for his PTSD and tested and evaluated for possible
Traumatic Brain Injury.
seem slim that the government will grant the request. So far,
authorities have stacked the deck against Sgt. Vela--as only the
government can. His government-appointed military counsel was
ineffective, and had the sergeant sign a waiver of his right to a
judicial investigation (known as an Article 32 hearing). Additionally,
exculpatory witnesses have been blocked from testifying on Sgt Vela’s
behalf. The government has also been unwilling to move his trial
(which may take place in February) to the States despite the
near-impossible financial burden a trial overseas has placed on Sgt.
unclear why the government is going out of its way to see Sgt Vela
convicted of a crime he likely never committed. Perhaps there’s
pressure to show the Iraqi government that the United States punishes
supporter of the troops and their mission in Iraq, I have a suggestion
for our government. Give Iraqi leaders a tour of Walter Reed. Take a
line from a Spielberg movie and tell them, “Earn this.” And, for God’s
sake, allow Sgt Vela to get the treatment he deserves.
Above: Sgt. Evan is the only man smiling in this picture of his
unit in Iraq.
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