FORT CARSON, Colo. (AP) — A soldier who blames his alleged misconduct on brain damage suffered before he was deployed to Iraq has demanded a court-martial.
Spc. Paul Thurman, 24, of Huntington Beach, Calif., rejected an Article 15 on Friday. Army spokeswoman Karen Linn confirmed Thurman rejected the so-called “nonjudicial punishment,” whose maximum penalties are limited to reduction in grade, loss of half a month’s pay for two months and extra duty or limits on his movements for up to 45 days.
Penalties under a court-martial could be much more severe, but would depend on what he is charged with and Army lawyers are still working on that.
Medical and other Army documents provided to The Associated Press by Thurman show that he suffered brain damage while undergoing Special Forces training at Fort Bragg, N.C. He was deployed despite the medical record, but ultimately was medevaced after a short tour in Iraq and returned to Fort Carson.
He claims he has been harassed since his return.
Stephen Robinson of Veterans for America, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that lobbies for soldiers says he has encountered many cases similar to Thurman’s.
A letter from his commander, Capt. Anthony L. Leach, documented how his supervisor, platoon sergeant and co-workers noted Thurman’s performance decline because of his injuries. “Soldier’s conditions are not exaggerated in any way,” Leach’s letter said.
The Army has been faced with thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq with head injuries. In some cases they have been diagnosed as brain damage, in others they are declared to be suffering from post-traumatic stress.
This post announced this week that it would soon begin testing brain scanning equipment to see if it can better identify a soldier’s medical problem.