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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Support the troops pt V

Who helps them when they come home?

Purple Heart recipient forced to repay signing bonus (Updated w/Poll)
by Pacific John [Subscribe]
Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 03:58:20 PM PDT

Iraq War veteran who received Purple Heart says Army is making him repay money

When Fontana resident and 2001 Fontana A.B. Miller High School graduate Kevin Stonestreet joined the U.S. Army in the summer of 2001 as a member of the infantry, he was given a $20,000 bonus to be paid out over his six-year enlistment.

However, when Stonestreet was honorably discharged from the Army in 2005, he found out he needed to repay $3,800 of that bonus because he did not complete his six years.

But Stonestreet, who is now 23, said he was kicked out of the Army because he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression from serving in Iraq.

In addition, Stonestreet, who was awarded the Purple Heart and was considered for the Bronze Star for bravery in combat, said the amount he was to pay back was originally $6,000, but the government repossessed his final paycheck of $2,200.

"They were nice enough to take out the $170 for my child support," Stonestreet said, laughingly.

(6:50 Pacific) I've pulled up this bit of the story to highlight just how outrageous this situation is:

THE GOVERNMENT IS still interested in recouping its $3,800 it believes it is entitled to. Stonestreet, who works as a clerk at Pep Boys in Rialto, said he has been contacted by a collection agency on the government's behalf and will soon be owing interest on that amount if something isn't done soon.
I'm too pissed off to add any meaningful commentary, but how many of these stories do we have to hear? It's not like the DOD shouldn't be able to take care of the 20k or so combat wounded, but kicking around a guy like this, who showed heroism under fire, ending up with PTSD? The DOD and this administration have no sense of honor.

Hey, somebody find a big name blogger who can grab this and set up a Paypal drive for this guy. I don't care who this guy is, or even if he's a rabid Republican, he should be treated better than this.

Update: Here is more from the story. First, the heroism under fire:

However, in September 2003, he was sent to fight in Iraq, and that's when everything changed for him.

STONESTREET WAS STATIONED near Fallujah, Iraq in April 2004 when an insurgency was being put down by U.S. military personnel.

On April 6, 2004, Stonestreet said he was riding in a Bradley fighting vehicle, which can seat up to 13 soldiers -- albeit not comfortably -- when it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

"We were providing security for the Marines as they were pulling out (of Fallujah) when they just got ambushed," Stonestreet said. "My platoon leader lost his leg and his gunner lost his right hand."

Stonestreet also was wounded. He was hit by shrapnel in his neck and was grazed by a bullet on his left arm. The shrapnel is still in his neck.

"I was a centimeter away from bleeding to death if it had hit my jugular," he said.

He was later recommended for the Bronze Star as he gave up his machine gun to a buddy when he went to get first aid for the injured -- but that's now all but forgotten, he said.

"I went on top of the Bradley to give them first aid," he said. "We were apparently under heavy fire, but because of the blast, I didn't hear anything. I was surprised there wasn't a fire, just a lot of smoke -- a lot of smoke -- and our uniforms smelled like ammonia for days."

And the aftermath:
But his world had been turned upside down by the war.

"When I first got home I had insomnia," he said. "When I could sleep, I had flashbacks, nightmares and cold sweat. "I'm a world better being away from the Army. I miss my friends, but they'll be all right, hopefully."

Update: I called Barbara's LA and Inland Empire offices, but more calls would be good.

San Francisco (415) 403-0100

Los Angeles (213) 894-5000

Inland Empire (909) 888-8525

Sacramento (916) 448-2787

San Diego (619) 239-3884

Washington D.C. (202) 224-3553

Anyone know Fontana well? It it largely mapped into Joe Baca's CD? (Joe Baca link)

We need to get on Joe Baca(D), whose office did not return calls from the local paper. If his idiot staff can't see this for what it is, we need to help them understand... Bab's LA office seemed sharp, and ready to go to work. The San Berdue office hadn't heard of this until I called.

Update (3:50 Pacific) - Rep. Baca's office: "We just got this story a few minutes ago, and we have assigned a case worker to it." (The staffer had never heard of Daily Kos)

Update (6:00 Pacific): I've added the poll on whether or not we should consider chipping in for this project. My thought here is that this looks similar to the case of the W VA soldier that John Aravosis at AmericaBlog raised funds for. Not only was it the right thing to do, it shamed the Army into doing the right thing, too... the soldier was said to have donated the funds to the mother of a soldier who helped save his life (IIRC), who lost her house in Katrina

Here's a challenge to Red State and any righties who want: why not join in on the phone calls and post this up on your sites to see if we can get this man his money back.

If you truly support the soldiers who fight this war, this is an easy thing to do.

And if that doesn't work by Monday, let's raise the money for him.

posted by Steve @ 12:01:00 AM

12:01:00 AM

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