Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

For Immediate Release:
May 17, 2006  
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Boxer Deeply Concerned by Reports that Army is Redeploying Soldiers Diagnosed as Suffering from PTSD  

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today sent the following letter to the Secretary of Defense:

May 17, 2006

The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301

Dear Secretary Rumsfeld,

I am deeply concerned by a report in the Hartford Courant (enclosed) detailing stories of American soldiers who are being redeployed to Iraq despite being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other acute mental health conditions.

Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatric consultant to the Army Surgeon General told the newspaper that the Army “wrestles with” this issue, because “historically, we have not wanted to send soldiers or anybody with PTSD back into what traumatized them.”

Mr. Secretary, I am in complete disbelief and disgust that the Pentagon would in any way “wrestle” with this issue. No matter what the Defense Department’s recruiting shortfalls may be, it is absolutely immoral to send soldiers who have been diagnosed as suffering from PTSD back into a combat zone.

You cannot simply have doctors prescribe psychiatric drugs such as Zoloft and send these men and women back to a combat zone, where they pose a risk to themselves and to their fellow soldiers.

Secretary Rumsfeld, I know you agree that our soldiers are patriots and deserve the very best care we can offer. Which is why I want to ask you directly: do you believe it is in any way appropriate to send soldiers diagnosed as suffering from PTSD into a combat zone?

I look forward to your immediate response.


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator


Click here for the Hartford Courant article that Senator Boxer mentions in her letter to Secretary Rumsfeld.