While Sgt. Jerrald Jensen was serving in Iraq, a searing hot chunk of metal smashed into his face after a roadside bomb hit his Humvee. After 16 surgeries, he bravely volunteered to return to service in Afghanistan, where he was wounded again. The (Colo. Springs) Gazette's three-part series, "Other than Honorable," follows the struggles that Jensen and three other soldiers faced after they returned home. Jensen was placed in the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) at Fort Carson after his Afghanistan injury. In the series, Jensen recalls how the WTU was a hostile environment. A year into his recuperation, Jensen tested positive for amphetamine. He asked to be re-tested, assuming that his various prescriptions likely generated a false positive. Instead, officials cut his rank and halted plans for a surgery that would fix his face. WTU leaders also attempted to have Jensen discharged for misconduct. This other-than-honorable discharge could potentially limit his ability to receive veterans' medical benefits.
Jensen’s experience is not necessarily an isolated incident either. The Gazette study suggests that the Army is discharging more soldiers for misconduct every year. “The number kicked out Army-wide annually has increased 60 percent since 2006," the Gazette reports. "If it can happen to me," Jensen reiterates, "it can happen to anyone." The Gazette aptly concludes that these questionable discharges are the result of ongoing pressure to cut costs as the wars wind down in Iraq and Afghanistan. The series also points to the lack of support and services available to soldiers who suffer from mental health issues associated with their time in service.
This well-researched investigation, published in late May 2013, has also generated buzz on other news media outlets. Sgt. Jensen and the "Other than Honorable" author, David Philips, were recently featured on Democracy Now! Click here for a link to that feature.