Soldier Who Went AWOL for Help "Hits Wall" at Fort Campbell

Army Spc. Jeff Hanks says he went absent without leave from the military because he couldn't get treatment for mental health issues. CBS

Army Spc. Jeff Hanks says he was absent without leave from the military because he couldn't get treatment for mental health issues.
CBS

The Army soldier who went absent without leave in order to get help for mental health problems told CBS News Monday that his treatment is going nowhere at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

"I'm hitting a wall," said Spc. Jeff Hanks. "I'm hitting a wall again."

In a phone call to CBS News, Hanks said his session with an on-base behavioral mental health counselor lasted all of 10 minutes and was conducted in the presence of a military escort.

During that period, the counselor seemed oblivious to Hanks' well-publicized attempt to get help -- asking "Why are you here?" -- and then informed Hanks he was not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, but rather "acute stress disorder."

"'If you had PTSD you wouldn't be able to sit in that chair right now,'" Hanks said the counselor told him.

Then Hanks said the counselor added, "'This is just political, isn't it?'"

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On Friday, I profiled Hanks' decision to leave Fort Campbell last month without permission after he said officers there had ignored his cries for help and ordered him back to Afghanistan. (Watch video below) He returned to the base Thursday, which was Veterans Day.

Hanks said he showed the Army counselor three evaluations from civilian therapists diagnosing Hanks with emotional problems and recommending that he be tested for PTSD, but the counselor rejected them.

"'Those don't matter,'" Hanks said the counselor told him. "The military doesn't look at civilian diagnosis."

Hanks said he still does not know what his punishment for leaving his unit. He faces discipline ranging from a reduction in rank to loss of pay to a dishonorable discharge. He said he has another counseling appointment set for Friday with the same counselor he saw before he went AWOL, a woman who suggested all he needed was marriage counseling.

In response to Hanks' accusations, a Fort Campbell spokeswoman said she could not comment on an individual soldier's behavioral health care treatment, saying "which, as you might imagine, can create difficulty for everyone involved."

  • Armen Keteyian

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