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War Vets Fighting Drug Addiction

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ABC News is out with a very important investigation into alcohol and drug abuse among soldiers who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The ABC investigation is centered on Fort Carson, a massive Army base in Colorado Springs, which is home to 17,500 active duty personell.

Among the soldiers who spoke to ABC News was William Swenson, who was injured in his final mission in Iraq. Prescription drugs provided little relief from physical and emotional pain, Swenson said, so he turned to marijuana and tried cocaine. The Army responded by court-martialling him and throwing him in jail for 20 days.

If the Pentagon was really interested in helping people who've served overseas, they'd give them adequate treatment for their physical and emotional pain instead of throwing them in prison. It's a common occurrence that I've covered numerous times.

You can check out my story about Private Cody Miranda here. He returned from a tour in Iraq and divorced his wife and pulled away from his son. He started drinking too much and was found in possession of cocaine.

"He never received any of the post-deployment questionnaires that now are mandatory for all troops," said Amanda Newman, a licensed family therapist who's been seeing Miranda on a pro-bono basis for the past few weeks. "He couldn't understand why all of a sudden his life was falling apart."

In 2005, Miranda went absent without leave from Camp Pendleton in California for nearly a year and lived homeless on the street. When he returned, Camp Pendleton. officials threw him in prison and only released him after his story was exposed by the media.

You can also check out the story of Staff Sgt. Michael Hall here. He returned from a tour in Iraq and started using meth to dull the pain. Soon after he was living homeless on the street.

Did you know?

A team of researchers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center found 95% of soldiers deployed to Iraq reported seeing dead bodies and remains, 95% had been shot at, and 89% had been ambushed or attacked. 69% had seen an injured woman or child and felt they could not provide assistance.

How well do you know your facts about U.S. veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan? Take the War Comes Home "Did You Know?" Quiz and find out!

 

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Pacifica radio network reporter Aaron Glantz is author of the new book "How America Lost Iraq" (Tarcher/Penguin). More information at www.warcomeshome.org
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