June 22, 2009

Update on Trevor Loope -Report from Fort Drum on June 18th

Trevor Loope might be be facing a court-martial proceeding on July 1. Or maybe the proceeding will be delayed. Or maybe (we hope) the charges against him will be dropped and he will be a favorable, non-punitive administrative separation –in effect acknowledging his PTSD and severe depression, and the failure of the military to provide the treatment that he requested upon his return from his combat tour in Afghanistan.

We need to be prepared to travel to Watertown and pack the observation boxes in the court room if indeed the command does decide to try to make an example of him and proceed with a punitive court-martial. That could be as early as July 1st. Are you ready to drop what you are doing for the day and join us? If so, please use the contact form to let us know that you will be there for Trevor.

The video above was taken outside the PX facility at Ft. Drum on June 18 after Trevor appeared before a sanity board. Trevor Loope is joined by, Dr. Ogren, the psychologist in Houston who diagnosed Trevor while he was AWOL in Texas, and Tod Ensign, a lawyer who directs Citizen soldier. Additional video from the press conference earlier in the day will follow, along with a summary of Trevors case.

Specialist Trevor Loope, 23, of Austin TX, served 15 months in Afghan combat with the 3d Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division. Upon returning to Ft. Drum in 2007 he was unable to obtain adequate treatment for mental health issues. This caused him to leave the base in search of effective treatment.
Dr. David Ogren, a clinical psychologist from Houston, TX with fifteen years experience treating victims of mental trauma, spent hours examining and testing Specialist Trevor Loope. Dr. Ogren’s report concludes that Trevor suffers from a severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a Major Depression, Severe. He also has a detailed treatment plan which was prepared by his therapist in Austin, TX.
On December 3, 2009, Specialist Trevor Loope addressed Ithaca's Common Council requesting the Common Council's active support upon his return to the base to potentially face criminal charges for being AWOL. As of late December, it looked promising that he would get an administrative discharge. Drum commanders, however, scheduled a sanity board to assess Loope's mental health status on Thursday, June 19th 10:00 am at Ft Drum's Mental Health facility. They also proffered criminal charges against Loope for AWOL with trial by a Special Court Martial set for July 1st, 2009.
Early in June, Dr. Ogren telephoned Ft Drum's mental health chief, Dr.Todd Benham offering to serve as an expert witness before the sanity board.. Ogren’s offer involved no expense to the military, since he is willing to pay his own travel expenses from Houston. On Monday, June 15th, Dr. Benham finally returned Ogren's call, asking him why he had phoned. When Ogren told him of his desire to testify at Loope's hearing, Benham remarked that that this was ridiculous and that since it was a closed hearing, he didn't think that Ogren would be allowed to testify. Dr. Ogren arrived at the base and waited in the lobby of the health center. He was invited to respond for ten minutes regarding any corrections or additions to the report he had written, a copy of which the board had already received. He was in conference much longer than ten minutes.
The video was taken outside the PX facility at Ft. Drum after the sanity board. Trevor Loope, Dr. Ogren, and Tod Ensign, a lawyer who directs Citizen soldier are interviewed. Citizen Soldier, a GI/veterans rights advocacy organization based in NYC, is supporting Trevor in his struggle to receive an administrative discharge from Ft. Drum. Tod Ensign, a lawyer and Director of Citizen Soldier and co-ordinator of the Different Drummer Cafe in Watertown, accompanied Trevor to Ithaca. He urged Council to extend broad support to war resisters like Trevor consistent with its “Community of Sanctuary” resolution, which was passed by Council on October 1, 2008.
-thanks to Tompkins Against War & Occupation and Cris McConkey for the video interview

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