June 20, 2014
Few people will go to their grave with thousands of saved lives credited to their name.
Steve Robinson just did.
The gentle big man, and former Army Ranger died June 12 of unspecified causes. He was just 51.
What kind of man was he?
He was the ultimate battle buddy, especially to young emotionally-wounded service members during their darkest moments … mostly guys who decided they’d had enough, gripping a loaded gun or bottle of pills in one hand and a mobile phone in the other, listening to Steve’s soothing sermons about survival and healing.
Steve was big, at least 275 lbs, probably more. He kept his hair cut at military standards, even after retirement. He had eyes that were as serious as they were kind. He always had time to help, and help he did, anytime, day or night. When it came to helping “his people,” Steve knew no clock.
He became well-known as the “go to guy” when a young soldier, sailor, airman or Marine was suffering severe psychiatric breakdown — usually just after getting home from multiple combat tours in either Iraq or Afghanistan — totally out of gas and getting a professional beat down from military commanders instead of badly needed help.
Steve knew military regs, inside and out.
He knew exactly how commanders operated — the devious tactics they used on green 19- and 20-year-olds just out of high school — and how they routinely flushed their mentally and physically wounded out of the military for new healthy young bodies, ready to deploy. Disposable humans.
Steve helped thousands of service members navigate the thick and complicated military medical and legal manuals, to save them from going to the brig during seasons when their PTSD was running wild. So many of them had military commands breathing down their necks, trying to criminalize their medical problems by punishing any and every minor infraction of military protocol to prove a “pattern of misconduct,” or by pressuring them into accepting a bogus “personality disorder” discharge.
Taking a PD discharge would get you out of the Army fast and easy, but it meant you would have a helluva time getting VA care for PTSD afterward. In excess of 100,000 desperate service members have accepted the PD discharge since 9/11, instead of waiting out the long adversarial process of navigating “the system” to get a proper diagnosis for PTSD before discharge. Steve thought this was a huge injustice for the young men and women accepting PD discharges.
You see, Steve knew exactly what PTSD was from a young age. His dad, served as a hard-ass combat Marine in Vietnam. He brought a severe case home from the war. He showed his kids what PTSD was all about.
But Steve, after retiring from 20 years with the Rangers was determined “not to be that way” with his own family. He became something that could best be described as a combination of Zen monk, platoon sergeant, big brother and military lawyer.
He taught countless troubled young men and women in uniform how to safely get off dangerous psychotropic drug cocktails that their military docs prescribed by the bag full, and instead help manage their raging minds and panic attacks by deeper breathing, calm music, sitting next to a pond, or burning some incense … hippie stuff. Steve definitely had some hippie in him.
Steve also could hold his own in the halls and cocktail lounges of Washington D.C., unafraid to pound on doors or engage congressional staffers after hours over drinks. Often, he was an expert witness during House or Senate committee hearings, where he would call “BS” on the underhanded tactics used by DoD and VA against “his people” suffering PTSD and countless other injuries, including TBI, Gulf War Illness, and injuries from the neurotoxic Malaria drug Lariam.
He had the lingo and always brought the hard statistical evidence. When Steve spoke to congress, he really had his shit together. His exhaustive work in the capital and across America helped an entire generation of veterans from being thrown under the bus, during a time when it was SOP to do so at military commands worldwide. When Steve spoke, the big guys in congress usually listened, unlike at the Pentagon.
When on occasion nobody would listen, Steve wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and share his concerns and frustrations with a hungry journalist. That happened in 2006 when nobody would listen to Steve about the laundry list of serious problems facing severely wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
With all the evidence of Walter Reed’s poor living conditions, over-medicating, suicides, and daily humiliation of troops in recovery there, Steve went to the Washington Post and gave them the scoop. The reports quickly awakened congress and the DoD brass. The resulting attention on Walter Reed served notice to military leaders that they could not continue to get away with handling wounded troops like recycling. The Post’s reporting on the Walter Reed scandal earned the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize.
Steve departs at a critical time, when the VA has been caught in a historic criminal conspiracy to deny care and benefits to millions of sick and wounded. Now it is known exactly how VA intentionally harms veterans. VA has been doing it through maltreatment, outright denial of benefits, or through actual negligent homicide and intentional over-medicating unsuspecting veterans with fatal prescription drug cocktails; drugs that are proven to induce suicidal behavior.
Perhaps the good soul Steve was, just could not endure seeing “his people” treated by VA and DoD in such a diabolical manner. Perhaps, his heart just stopped, because it was broken over it all. Perhaps he had loaded his vet advocacy ruck sack with one case too many, and he could not march on without more concern and help from American leaders, its citizens, and other advocates.
There is no doubt at TMSR that Ranger Robinson will be fast-tracked through heaven’s gate, and have a leadership billet waiting for him in the sky.
Filed under: Resources Tagged: | Afghanistan, Army Ranger Death, Gulf War Research Center, House Armed Services Committee, Iraq, Military Suicide, PTSD, Steve Robinson death, Stigma, Suicide prevention, VA Scandal, Veterans Advocate Steve Robinson, Veterans Affairs, Walter Reed scandal, Walter Reed Washington Post