MEFLOQUINE: Suspect in Military “Suicide/Murder” Cases, Nuero-toxic Drug Implicated in Bales Massacre, Elsewhere

WEEKLY WRAP: Mefloquine, Madness, and the Military Massacre

by Dan Olmsted
Age of Autism, June 2013

Some of you know that I wandered into the autism world through my reporting on an anti-malaria drug called Lariam that was causing some really hard-core symptoms, such as psychosis, suicide, and even aggressive behavior up to and including homicide. Quite an adverse-events roster, especially given that when I first started reporting on it back in 1999, it was the CDC’s first-choice anti-malarial, and the agency said that reports of such side effects were overblown, unlikely — even patently false.

Just “traveler’s psychosis,” sniffed the malaria surveillance officer at the CDC.

Meanwhile, elite soldiers coming back from Afghanistan committed murder-suicides, Peace Corps volunteers ended up in long-term psych wards, and random travelers came back from nice trips to Africa and blew their brains out. Association is not causation, the experts opined. “People with Internet mystique” who didn’t know what they were talking about, the Army Surgeon General warned Congress about those sounding the alarm. (Sound familiar?)

But it was clearly happening. This denialism led me directly to another question: If the CDC, the FDA and the drug company could stand foursquare behind such a toxic substance, what about vaccines and autism — a question first raised by my reporting partner at the time, Mark Benjamin, in a 2003 investigative report that I edited. Mark went on to do distinguished work on several other subjects. I got stuck on this question of whether vaccines and the autism epidemic were related — which, I’ve concluded based on my own reporting, they were. And are.

But back to Lariam, known generically as mefloquine. Over the years, the CDC has dialed back on recommending it; the FDA has ratcheted up the warnings, which now do mention suicide and say that effects can last “long after” someone stops taking it (FDA speak for, “forever”); the manufacturer, Roche pharmaceuticals, has stopped selling it in the United States (along with its equally suicide-inducing anti-acne medicine, Accutane), and the Army no longer pushes it on every soldier it deploys to malarial hot zones, like Afghanistan.

But it’s still an approved prescription drug, and it still is prescribed thousands of times a year, and the Army — which invented it — can’t bear to actually ban its use, which, given the toxic brew of guns, PTSD, and violence into which it is introduced, is truly wild.

This long-running record of delay and denial has now run smack into its karmic brick wall, it appears — a soldier who committed the worst atrocity (on our side) in the war on terror. Time mag reported this week that Sgt. Robert Bales, who just pleaded guilty to slaughtering 17 Afghan civilians in 2012, including women and children, and set some of them on fire, may have been taking mefloquine. It’s something a lot of us who know what this drug can do have been speculating about for quite some time.

The Kill Pill: Murder, Madness, and the Army’s Mefloquine Cover-up

Time cites a document filed with the drugmaker and forwarded to the FDA. While it’s not clear who filed it, the reference to a homicide of 16 civilians (the first press accounts used that figure) could only be referring to Bales’ rampage, and the use of the term “medically confirmed” suggests Roche was satisfied that Bales was taking it. As Time points out, the Army has yet to say whether he took it or not — suspicious in itself — and it is now past time for the military to come clean. Here’s a portion of the report on file with the FDA: (Click photo to enlarge.)

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Suicide in US Military Rising at Alarming Rate

by PressTV
May 28, 2013

The number of suicide cases among active service members in the US Army is rising at an alarming rate despite efforts made to curb the trend, Press TV reports.

According to a new report, the US military recorded 161 potential suicides in 2013, meaning one suicide about every 18 hours among active duty troops, reservists and National Guard members.

The report noted that US Defense Department, Pentagon, has implemented a number of initiatives in an attempt to decrease the number of suicides.

However, analysts believe that the rate will even increase in the next couple of years as more troops are returning from Afghanistan.

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BREAKTHROUGH: Fort Bragg Leaders Discover Malbehavior Among Soldiers With Psychiatric Injuries Results From Their “Personal Choices,” Not Medical Conditions

Pfc. Chasa Hosey, who served two deployments in Iraq, suffered invisible wounds from his war service. Military doctors at Fort Bragg’s Womack Army Medical Center diagnosed Hosey with Adjustment Disorder, anxiety, insomnia, alcohol abuse and depression. They prescribed him powerful psychotropic drug cocktails including Zoloft, Seroquel and Buspar. But for some reason, Hosey’s doctors has never officially diagnosed him with PTSD. Hosey’s commander, an Army captain, decided Hosey was malingering. He ordered Hosey to take a test to prove it, even though the Army’s Surgeon General cautioned in April 2012 against using tests to determine malingering. Fort Bragg officials claim they “adhere strictly” to those guidelines but offered no explanation of why a captain would accuse Hosey of malingering. (Fayetteville Observer)

THE LAST BATTLE: Pfc. Chasa Hosey Fights to Get Honorable Discharge, VA Benefits

by Greg Barnes
Fayetteville Observer, Sept. 24, 2012

If he didn’t get help soon, Chasa Hosey thought, he would kill himself or someone else.

Hosey said he had just been told he was going to be separated from the Army for misconduct, and the news pushed the mentally ill Fort Bragg soldier close to violence.

He said he became so agitated that he checked himself into the psychiatric ward at Womack Army Medical Center to protect himself and others.

Last week – after the Quaker House and The Fayetteville Observer looked into Hosey’s case – Fort Bragg said it was backing off a captain’s intent to discharge Hosey for misconduct.

Fort Bragg officials now say they plan to put Hosey out of the Army on a Chapter 5-17, which allows separation for a physical or mental condition that is not considered a disability. The officials say Hosey will receive an honorable discharge, which should entitle him to benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. He is also being promoted to specialist.

The officials made the decision Thursday after Hosey’s chain of command reviewed his record of service, deployment, conduct and performance history, and his mental and medical health. Fort Bragg had not notified Hosey of the decision Monday.

Lenore Yarger, who helps soldiers through the Quaker House, is baffled by the decision.

“A diagnosed disorder does not excuse patterns of misconduct … those are his own personal choices.

— Sgt. Maj. Eric Brooks, former Fort Bragg psychological operations expert, now serving as Fort Bragg’s senior enlisted suicide prevention publicist

She says Army regulations call for soldiers found to have post-traumatic stress disorder to be provided fair and equal treatment through the Army’s physical disability system.

“I really just don’t understand the urgency of putting him out and not giving him a fair hearing,” Yarger said. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Hosey readily acknowledges that he has behaved badly in the past few years, but he blames his conduct on his mental health problems.

He said he never faced discipline while serving in the Navy in the 1990s or in the Army until after he came home from 15 months of heavy fighting in Iraq in 2008.

“That kind of destroyed me over there,” Hosey said. “I saw more than I needed to see, did more than I needed to be doing.”

In January 2010, medical records provided by Hosey show, a doctor on Fort Bragg diagnosed him with depression disorder. Hosey said he was provided counseling but little else.

Fort Bragg’s director of suicide prevention, Col. Chad B. McRee, leads soldiers at the Army’s base with the highest rate of suicide so far in 2012. At least 15 Bragg soldiers have killed themselves this year. McRee’s career specialty is in law enforcement and has years of formal training as a military policeman. His position leading Bragg’s suicide prevention programs supports a new radical theory in medicine that says soldiers suffering psychiatric illness, such as PTSD and Major Depression, are fully capable of controlling their behavior, despite their mental condition. (Fayetteville Observer)

Hosey, who served with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team at that time, said he began drinking heavily and arguing with his wife in front of their children. Before he knew it, Hosey said, his wife had left him.

About the same time, he said, he was caught driving drunk, which resulted in a loss of rank – from sergeant to specialist. His misconduct also caused him to miss a deployment to help Haiti recover from an earthquake.

But that didn’t stop Fort Bragg from sending Hosey to Iraq again in May 2011.

During that deployment, Hosey said, he got into more trouble when he “verbally blew up” at a senior noncommissioned officer. Again, Hosey said, he was demoted in rank, to private first class.

Hosey’s problems did not stop when he returned home from Iraq in November.

In February, his wife filed separation papers, leaving him in “a house that used to be a home.”

About a month earlier, Hosey said, he had gone to Military One Source looking for help. In April, doctors at Fort Bragg prescribed him medications for PTSD, anxiety, depression and sleep problems.

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