Gaps In Mental Health Screenings Still Haunt Military

By MATTHEW KAUFFMAN | The Hartford Courant: May 12, 2009

Chad Barrett had attempted suicide and was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder by the time his unit prepared for a third combat tour in Iraq. A psychiatrist had recommended the staff sergeant be separated from the military for his own good, but Barrett wanted to stay with his Army colleagues.  And when it came time for deployment, Army commanders were happy to oblige.

Barrett, who had spent a dozen years in the Army, shipped out in December 2007 with prescription bottles of Klonopin for anxiety, Pamelor for depression and migraines, and Lunesta and Ambien for sleep problems. But the drugs did not control his despair and mood swings. And less than two months after arriving in Iraq, Barrett popped open some of the bottles and committed suicide by overdose. He was 35.

“I understand that they have a mission, and mission comes first. I completely get that,” Barrett’s widow, Shelby Barrett, said from her home near Fort Carson in Colorado. “But they took a soldier who was not mentally capable of doing the things that he thought he was capable of doing. And I think they took him just as another boot on the ground. They needed their numbers.”,0,3688799.story


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