July 11, 2009

Specialist Trevor Loope is Free! Army Drops Court Martial

Specialist Trevor Loope, 24, of Austin, Texas who faced a year in prison and a Bad Conduct discharge at Special Court Martial for AWOL was discharged administratively by orderof Ft Drum's Commander, Gen. Michael Oates, on Friday, July 10th.

Because Loope possessed an Honorable Discharge from an earlier Army tour, he will be eligible for GI Bill benefits as well as treatment at VA medical facilities.

Loope had left Ft Drum in 2007 when he was unable to obtain mental health treatment for his Afghan-war-related injuries. With the support of Citizen Soldier, a national GI and veterans rights advocacy group based in New York City, Loope had surrendered to Ithaca's Common Council on December 3, 2008. He relied on a resolution which the council had adopted in October, 2008 which offered "sanctuary" in Ithaca to war resisters. Although council members offered Trevor support, they didn't provide sanctuary.

After surrendering at Ft Drum,.Trevor spent the next seven months serving in administrative jobs in his old unit. He had provided Ft Drum therapists with an extensive psychiatric diagnosis which documented that he suffered from both severe Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and a Major Depression.

His civilian psychologist, Dr. David Ogren, travelled from Houston, Texas to testify at an Army "sanity board" which met to determine Trevor's mental state on June 18th at Ft Drum. Although that board has still not published its recommendations, General Oates approved an administrative discharge in lieu of court-martial.

Tod Ensign, Director of Citizen Soldier commented;

The Army has finally done the right thing by separating Trevor without court martial, but they could have done this six months ago. For some reason, they wanted this injured soldier to 'twist in the wind' for a while, probably in hopes of deterring other ailing soldiers who might go AWOL in search of treatment.
Ensign added:
Trevor's release is a victory that resulted from the broad support his case generated in Ithaca and across the country. However, we can't forget that there are thousands of other soldiers like Trevor who are denied mental health care every day.

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