Wounded soldier says Army tried to oust him
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A badly wounded combat veteran said the Army punished him for minor missteps while he was recovering and tried to give him a less-than-honorable discharge after he failed a drug test — a test he said was inaccurate.
Jerrald Jensen was eventually given a medical retirement, but only after his family asked a two-star general to intervene, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported Monday (http://tinyurl.com/mmyrdrg).
Of 10 wounded soldiers in Fort Carson’s Warrior Transition Unit who faced misconduct charges over the past two years, Jensen was the only one to get a reprieve, the newspaper reported.
The Gazette reported previously that the number of soldiers discharged for misconduct Army-wide has increased more than 25 percent since 2009, mirroring the rise in wounded.
Jensen won praise from his combat commanders for courage, honor and integrity in Iraq and Afghanistan.
His jaw was shattered by an insurgent attack on the Humvee he was driving in Iraq in 2007. Despite requiring 16 surgeries over two years to rebuild his jaw and face, he volunteered to return to combat.
In 2009, he was deployed to a remote and embattled outpost in Afghanistan, where he fell and re-injured his jaw and cracked his kneecap. The Army refused to send him back to Afghanistan, so in 2010 he transferred to a Warrior Transition Unit — designed to care for seriously injured soldiers — at Fort Carson outside Colorado Springs.
Jensen said he was treated harshly by sergeants running the unit, written up for minor infractions and forced to wait for badly needed care.
The Army declined to discuss Jensen’s conduct but said soldiers in the Warrior Transition Unit have to abide by standard Army rules.
In 2012, Jensen tested positive for amphetamines during a routine drug screening, which he insisted was inaccurate. He said the Army refused to retest him and moved to give him a less-than-honorable discharge, potentially denying him veterans medical benefits for life.
After his family appealed to Maj. Gen. Jimmie Keenan, former commander of the hospital at Fort Carson and now head of the Army Public Health Command, Jensen was told he would get medical retirement, with benefits.
Jensen left the Army in December and said he is focusing on healing and pushing for improvements in the way the wounded are treated.
“I’m doing this for the same reason I went to Afghanistan,” he said. “I can’t just walk away. I can’t leave comrades behind. It’s wrong.”