TOXIC LEADERSHIP: Another Sailor Dies From Suicide After Being Bullied by Her Commanders

Toxic Command Climate Cited in Sailor’s Suicide

by Dianna Cahn
The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 17, 2014

NORFOLK, Va. (Tribune News Service) — A sailor’s suicide on board the Norfolk-based destroyer James E. Williams in June can be blamed in part on a toxic command climate that involved bullying and retribution, a command investigation has found.

The investigation was spurred by the death of the sailor but grew in scope when the investigator began examining the ship’s leadership. What he found was misconduct and abusive behavior among senior enlisted personnel while the commanding officer and the executive officer failed to take charge.

Among the allegations to surface in the report were accounts of a second suicide attempt, sexual assault, a reprisal and alcohol abuse by the ship’s command master chief — the top enlisted sailor.

The ship’s skipper, Cmdr. Curtis Calloway, handed over the reins in September. He was reassigned, along with his deputy, Cmdr. Ed Handley, and Command Master Chief Travis Biswell, to desk jobs in Norfolk pending the investigation. All three faced nonjudicial punishment for dereliction of duty in October, while Biswell was also found guilty of drunken and disorderly conduct.

“As the CO, Cmdr. Calloway owned the culture on board USS James E. Williams,” Rear Adm. Andrew Lewis, the Carrier Strike Group 12 commander, wrote in his endorsement of the report.

Calloway’s failure to hold senior enlisted personnel accountable, including the command master chief, “enabled a culture that empowered the chief petty officers to target, belittle and bully junior sailors,” Lewis wrote. “Cmdr. Calloway was either willfully blind to problems on board his ship or he was in an extremely negligent state of denial.”

The Williams left on an eight-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea on May 30. Seaman Yeshabel Villot-Carrasco died June 19 after taking a toxic dosage of sleeping pills, according to the investigation.

The report found that she was upset about her treatment on board and felt she was being singled out and selectively punished because of her small stature. The investigation found that she’d faced reprisal in the form of disciplinary action after telling her superior that she planned to file an equal opportunity complaint. She also struggled with perceptions on board that she was involved romantically with another sailor while her husband was on a different ship.

The investigation said she sought assistance the day she took the pills, but support networks that are required to be in place were not functioning. It found that the initial ship’s investigation was incomplete and that the commanding officer failed to address concerns it raised about command climate, misconduct and missed warning signs.

“Her belief that she was being treated unfairly by her leaders… was not her only source of stress but it was significant,” the investigator found.

About a week after the suicide, another sailor tried to kill herself by attempting to jump overboard. She was physically restrained by others, the report said.

Read the rest of this story:

http://www.stripes.com/news/navy/uss-james-e-williams-toxic-command-climate-cited-in-sailor-s-suicide-1.319730

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AFTER WAR: Battling Suicide, Depression, Injuries and Illness Without Dangerous Drugs from VA/DoD

Pill Pushers at VA/DoD Meet Their Match With Ancient Healing Methods

by TMSR (www.themilitarysuicidereport.wordpress.com)
Dec. 29, 2014

Thousands of service members and veterans continue to die each year resulting from toxic-drug overdose on prescription pills vigorously pushed by VA/DoD doctors.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the VA, in excess of 100,000 veterans have died from suicide since 9/11.

That devastating figure does not include deaths disguised as “accidental overdoses” from powerful opioids, and other dangerous drugs so commonly prescribed to those injured during military service and struggling with chronic pain.

When toxic-drug overdose and vehicle crashes while drugged up on prescription medications are factored in, the number of deaths likely doubles, perhaps even triples. To date, VA/DoD refuses to release the true number of deaths resulting from these “accidental” deaths caused by the drugs they prescribe.

The link below contains an amazing and informative lecture introducing the topic of ancient medicine and traditional healing methods that date back thousands of generations. This therapy is commonly known as “TCM'” Traditional Chinese Medicine, or “CAM” therapy, Complementary Alternative Medicine.

Watch the lecture here:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9EkwukyMV9o

TCM and CAM offer a much safer alternative to the dangerous drug cocktails now wildly popular among VA/DoD doctors as the quickest, easiest, and most profitable way in treating sick and injured veterans after military service. The most dangerous drug combo frequently prescribed today by these doctors consists of the following “standard issue” cocktail:

SSRIs (Zoloft) to treat depression
benzodiazepines (Klonapin) to treat anxiety
Zolpidem (Ambien) and Eszopicione (Lunesta) to treat insomnia
Tetracyclic (Trazadone) to treat insomnia/depression
Antipsychotics (Resperdal & Seroquel) to treat PTSD
Opioids (OxyContin & Morphine) to treat chronic pain

Most of these prescription drugs already carry FDA’s most serious warning of side effects, known as the “BLACK BOX” warning, often alerting the patient of possible suicidal ideation when taking them.

What makes these drugs far deadlier than the suicidal behavior side effect is that veterans suffering from the typical serious injuries seen in the military today — PTSD, depression, mTBI, burns, and orthopedic (amputations) — have been shown in VA/DoD surveys to self-report as frequent binge drinkers at rates exceeding 50 percent. That figure is far higher in those having participated in combat abroad.

Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks in a row. Using alcohol while taking these prescribed drugs is extremely toxic, especially during binge drinking sessions, where many veterans or service members say they will easily drink a case of beer or a liter of whiskey in one sitting.

The lecturer, Beverly Burns MS LAc, specializes in acupuncture, but reveals through her experiences practicing various forms of TCM and CAM therapy just how safe and effective these ancient medical practices are in treating any illness or injury … even cancer.

Many techniques involved with TCM and CAM are natural, and cost little to nothing for the patient. Medicinal herbs and physical therapies such as breathing exercises or Tai Chi are frequently prescribed in TCM and CAM. Patients participating in TCM or CAM treatment programs can easily grow their own herbs, harvest them in nature for free, or practice the exercises at home on their own, or in a community group.

VA/DoD has resisted adding such treatment protocols to their medical programs due to the financial component; it is often free, and requires little follow-up care once the patient learns the prescribed therapies. The agencies and pharmaceutical companies that supply the drugs would lose billions in profits from prescribing and selling their dangerous drugs to VA/DoD for the service members and veterans.

Many veterans elect suicide over treatment at VA/DoD facilities due to the long wait times or poor access to specialized medicine. The VA’s shameful scandals through the years has proven how inefficient and untrustworthy VA/DoD providers have been. At least 40 veterans under the care of VA doctors in Phoenix Arizona died waiting months or even years for care.

TCM and CAM therapies are widely available outside VA/DoD facilities and affordable for most veterans. Although practitioners of TCM and CAM are sometimes scarce in rural areas, the ancient healing technique is rapidly growing in America and other Westernized medical communities.

The healing methods have survived thousands of generations and are making a comeback in societies that have long frowned upon these treatment philosophies and methods.

Veterans and service members have reported very positive healing results from attaining on their own TCM and CAM, even as VA/DoD have proven reluctant to embrace fully TCM and CAM at their medical treatment facilities.

Veterans are increasingly turning to TCM and CAM resources readily available outside of VA/DoD, with excellent results in the majority of patients.

Perhaps someday, TCM and CAM will become the treatment of choice at VA/DoD medical facilities, but that seems highly unlikely given the culture of scandal and misconduct within the VA/DoD.

(This article may be reprinted for editorial purposes without permission with the following mandatory byline: “by TMSR (www.themilitarysuicidereport.wordpress.com)”.

ANOTHER COVER-UP: Incomplete Questionaire Data Helping DoD/VA Hide Truth About Suicide, Depression


Investigation Shows Depression May Run Deeper Than VA Reports

by Jacqueline Klimas
The Washington Times, Dec. 24, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Veteran suicide is a major issue on Capitol Hill, but policymakers may be making decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate data, according to several investigations that suggest depression could be a far larger problem than the one-in-10 figure the Department of Veterans Affairs cites.

Investigators found that almost two-thirds of the forms used to track veterans’ suicides were incomplete. Some lacked critical information such as the date the veteran died or when the veteran was treated at a VA hospital.

A data entry error and vague standards for doctors writing reports may mean the number of veterans suffering from serious depression could be much higher than the 10 percent the VA reports.

The Government Accountability Office also found that no one was charged with checking the accuracy of the forms at the central office, suggesting the problem could be much wider than the six hospitals that the GAO sampled.

“Lack of complete, accurate, and consistent data and poor oversight can inhibit VA’s ability to identify, evaluate, and improve ways to better inform its suicide prevention efforts,” the GAO report said.

Lawmakers stalemated this month on a bill to bring more resources to the VA to try to lower the rate of suicides. One key provision would have pushed the VA to study best practices to see what programs work.

A Defense Department inspector general’s report from November found a high number of “don’t know” or “data unavailable” answers in suicide questionnaires from 2011, the most recent year data were available, suggesting the problem of inaccurate record-keeping extends beyond the VA.

Read the rest of this story:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/24/veteran-suicide-investigation-shows-depression-may/print/