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Veteran is Diagnosed, Then Charged

POSTED: 12:05 PM ET, 12/ 3/2007 by The Editors

Post reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull continued their examination of the treatment of war veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center with the story of Army 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside, whose doctors say she has a mental disorder. After seven years of exemplary service, the 25-year-old Army reservist is being charged with attempting suicide and endangering the life of another soldier. She faces the possibility of life in prison if she is tried and convicted.

By The Editors |  December 3, 2007; 12:05 PM ET Walter Reed
Previous: Probation for Killers | Next: New Arrest in Tax Refund Scam


Please email us to report offensive comments.

On Elizabeth Whiteside a Veteran of the Iraq War that should be honored for her service to this country; instead she is being disgraced by people who have not served on the frontlines and have no idea of the horrors of war. Please make our soldies whole and not waste their young lives due to this countries lack of support and caring for them.

Posted by: Jerry Fehn | December 3, 2007 3:04 PM

I am heartsick that my tax dollars are paying the salaries of ignorant bullies who are abusing their authority to persecute a mentally-ill soldier. Their use of the term "psychobabble" betrays ignorance and intolerance. The military's treatment of war veterans continues to be shameful and indefensible. The George Patton mind-set lives on all these years later. What a disgrace! Many thanks to Ms. Priest and Ms. Hull for their tireless reporting; they are performing an invaluable public service!

Posted by: Dallas | December 3, 2007 6:55 PM

By God there is gonna be HELL to PAY on Election day 2008 for this. YOU HEAR THIS GOP SCUM! You claim to support our troops. You liars and scumbags will be voted out.

Posted by: Ben Matheny | December 4, 2007 12:52 AM

To: Mr. Pete Geren
Secretary of the Army
101 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0101

I am to inform you that a Civilian body of your peers has found you culpable of dereliction of your duties as Secretary of the Army of the Republic of the United States of America.

In the case involving Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside; It is by order of this civilian body that you shall stand trial, at a time and place, for the charges of (1) failure to maintain honorable control over your duties to; aid, assist and protect all soldiers (i.e. Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside) and (2) dereliction of your duties to assist, in any way and means necessary, to insure the health of the mind, body and spirit of any and all soldiers.

The charges are covered within the body of all articles of the Geneva Convention and the Common Social Contract established by the founders of the Republic and established in the Bill of Rights (for the caretakers of Ms. Whiteside).

It is the opinion of this and other citizens that your failure to maintain the most basic knowledge of the necessary treatment of injuries to the mind and spirit of soldiers under your care and chain of command has directly harmed and has led to the injury of (a) soldier(s) in and during the lawful execution of their duties and by your inaction indirectly to the harm of innocent civilian citizen caretakers of the injured soldier, harmed the honor and credibility of Republic and by Incompetence have brought Great Shame and gratuitous damage to the people and the Republic of the United States of America.

You are allowed to defend yourself, if you cannot or will not then this civilian body will have no choice but to try your case in absentia.

To inform you of the realities of the grounds on which this Nation was born, if found guilty, Mr. Geren shall be banished for all time from the domain of the Republic and the presence of the any and ALL current and future citizens of the Republic.

It is hereby ordered and witnessed on this day, December 3, 2007 by Bill Williams of the State of Texas, peer and citizen of the Republic of the United States of America.

Good luck

Posted by: Bill W | December 4, 2007 2:32 AM

I know the family of 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside. She and her father have given this country honorable service. It is only fair and just that she be allowed a military retirement at full benefits. Anything less is a travesty. Thanks to the Post for helping to bring this story to the public. Everyone...please notify your elected officials that you support Lt. Whiteside.

Posted by: Michael Childers | December 4, 2007 10:51 PM

Shame, shame on our military government!!!

Posted by: Marcia Frazier | December 4, 2007 10:57 PM

The treatment Elizabeth Whiteside is receiving is deplorable. I know both her and her father and know them to be strong patriots with years of service to our country. I remember first meeting Elizabeth a few years ago and what a bright, vibrant person she was. I am a veteran reaching the rank of LCDR. and a victim of severe depression---thank God I was treated and diagnosed by civilians.

Posted by: donald robb | December 5, 2007 7:19 AM

Both the disgraceful treatment of Lt Whiteside and the medieval policy of the Military, to treat depression and suicide as somehow an attach on the service need to be addressed, now. I was a Navy wife and worked with the Red Cross in the Naval Hospital at Yokusuka, Japan during the Vietnamese War; we had wards full of specific wounds-- burn victims from the carriers, whole units of sailors with their intestines on their stomachs covered with the equivalent of plastic bags, healing from shrapnel wounds, wards of head trauma patients, and the locked wards of the psychiatric casualties. Many of those veterans are still suffering from the effects of PTSD. Why are we still doing this to our soldiers? All wounds, mental and physical, deserve to be treated with care and respect.
In Mutsakis's book about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), I Can't Get Over It, she talks about the three main levels of wounding: what happened, and then, secondly, what happened when you tell, and then how the individual adapts to the trauma. The military's treatment of Lt Whitside is repeating, enlarging and can be more damaging in the end then the trauma itself. Perhaps in helping her, we can help others

Posted by: Carol Mohney, PhD | December 5, 2007 7:51 AM

What a disgrace at how many of our young soldiers who are fighting for our freedoms are being treated upon returning home, especially from duty in Iraq and especially in the area of mental health. It seems like their physical wounds are being dealt with more readily than their emotional ones, when both should be equally addressed.

As a proud American and the wife of a retired US Air Force LTC, I gladly stood by my husband during his service and have always been honored to have been a part of the military community for twenty two years. Our medical benefits, including treatment for depression, have been in the civilian community since retirement and have been top notch. Of course Elizabeth Whiteside and all other service men and women like her deserve the very best as well.

I grew up with Elizabeth's father and know him to be a wonderful man. I know he and his family are devastated by this injustice and I hope that shedding light on this despicable condition will force our country to do the right thing for this young woman and any others in her position.

Posted by: Karla Hubbard Homich | December 5, 2007 8:30 AM

The treatment of Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside as well as many of our soldiers in the armed services suffering from mental disorders is dispicable. Perhaps the U.S. Army and certain members of Congress should be brought to trial in a civilian setting on charges of gross negligence of all our wounded soldiers,treating psychiatric patients without a medical license and perpetuating ludicrous regulations created by commanders lacking even the most basic knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the human brain.

Posted by: Kitty Moakley R.N. | December 5, 2007 2:49 PM

Thank you for bringing to light the alarming story concerning the treatment of 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside.

As a citizen with little knowledge of the inner workings of military matters, I am now enlightened as to the manner in which our government is treating the honorable men and women who have given so much to our country.

"Trauma Mama" served her country with brilliance and honor for several years of her young life: it is now our turn to help her in her own time of trauma.

Posted by: Penny Weisgram | December 5, 2007 6:22 PM

1st Lt Elizabeth Whiteside belongs to the second generation of her immediate family to serve the United States of America as a member of a branch of the armed services.

Her father served in my generation's war, Viet Nam, and now her service in Iraq is under scrutiny and her future uncertain.

How can we let our young people be treated so unjustly?

How can America expect to have these young people continue to serve?

My father was a WWII vet who told me when I asked about his service "My country right or wrong".

When we need young people to serve and then treat them as Lt Whiteside is being treated, will we have the luxury of that type of patriotism?

Posted by: Jane Kay Orton | December 6, 2007 10:53 AM

I am writing to you to express my concern with the apparent treatment of 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside. If the facts of her case are true as reported in the article written for the Washington Post on December 2nd, 2007, by Dana Pries and Anne Hall, then something is definitely "broken" with the treatment of this young woman.

Her father, Thomas Whiteside, has been my friend since our days in high school. Tom has served his country basically all of his life. After graduation from college, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Vietnam. He then joined the federal investigative services. Anyone who knows Tom knows that he is not given to hyperbole or exaggeration. His comments concerning the treatment of his daughter by the government he so faithfully served must, I am sure, make him question why his country has turned its back on and is considering the prosecution of one of its wounded soldiers.

I realize that the newspaper report cannot fully cover each and every aspect of this case. And I realize that there will be facts that cannot be openly revealed because of security concerns or because of patient confidentiality requirements. However, with the information presented to me through this story, along with other accounts of the treatment afforded to PTSD patients, I feel that is imperative that someone in high authority intercede on their behalf.

I am particularly offended and distressed by the quote attributed to Maj. Stefan Wolfe, the Army prosecutor, which equated PTSD to "psychobabble". As an individual who once was treated for severe depression, I personally resent such an insinuation. I sincerely hope that Maj. Wolfe never suffers from depression - it is a condition that I would not wish on anyone.

I fear that, unless the mindset of those in charge of caring for our wounded veterans changes, in 20 years we will be reading of homeless veterans who never recovered from PTSD suffered in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Posted by: Robert Leavene | December 6, 2007 2:27 PM

Before I criticize the "persecution" of 1LT Whiteside, I would want to know more of how exaclty she harmed the lives of other Soldiers. A couple of the articles reference aggrevated assault and kidnapping. Need more info before we slam the system guys. While her service to her country is an honorable thing, any life threatening acts toward other Soldiers, who are also serving our country, are clearly not.

Posted by: Bob | December 14, 2007 1:58 PM

Please treat 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside with dignity. She should not be ridiculed or punished for situations out her control. Instead, grant her the medical treatment she needs and deserves.

Posted by: Jo | December 20, 2007 5:23 PM

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