United States. Congress. House. Committee on Veter.

Viewpoints on Veterans Affairs and related issues : hearing before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, May 4, 1994 online

. (page 11 of 23)
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even bypassing CORDS in Saigon completely All told Veterans ft^om these operations more likely number
in the thousands rather than the reported hundreds They penetrated all borders of Vietnam, interdicting the
VCI network wherever it led, regardless of national boundary If captured, these veterans are unlikely to be
officially registered as POWs , particularly if captured outside the Republic of Vietnam Believing that
American participation in assassinations, executions, violent interrogations, disregard for political and
CORDS boundanes or civilized judicial procedures were rare, is naive and just aggravates the guilt that this
group of special operations personnel carries to this day When the typewriters Stan reportmg what just
happened in a counterterrorist operation, the first thing to go is the truth, oftentimes with such euphemistic
descnptions of execution as deactivation or resisting arrest

Interestingly, despite what these men did in southeast Asia, they show little e'.idence of a conduct disorder in
adolescence pnor to going to Vietnam In fact one man is an ordained Episcopal priest. He will verify what
I have told you

Ironically, in addition to guilt over face-to-face, pre-meditated killings and violent interrogations, these men
have uniquely intense ambivalence to the fall of Saigon in 1975 Operation Phoenix was essentially
terminated in 1972, and many of these veterans know they had the war won Instead their local informants,
along with records identifying who they were, were abandoned in our hasty evacuation of Saigon

It was reported fi'om Saigon by LeMond, a Parisian newspaper, on July II, 1976,

"It is realized in Saigon today that Operation Phoenix conducted by the Americans, which
involved the elimination of the Communist Party officials, together with the bombings had
been fearfijlly effective The number of revolutionary cadres is said to have dropped from
90,000 or so before the United States intervened to a maximum of 50,000 in 1975, most of
the survivors being soldiers Party cells were successfully wiped out in the rural districts
and decimated in the cities At the beginning of the new regime there were three
thousand militants in Saigon, of whom 2,000 were cadres, not necessarily the best in
the last few years of the war, Nguyen Huu Tho, the president of the front told me, 'our
activities declined because our comrades have been eliminated The best of us were
sacrificed, and we didn't have enough to run the cities We had to lake people who had
revolutionary fervor, but no experience and to bring officials down fi'om the north '"

General Tran Do. deputy communist commander in the south, called Operation Phoenix extremely
destructive Foreign Minister Nguyen Thach admitted that Phoenix had wiped out many of the bases in
south Vietnam and compelled the North Vietnamese army and the Viet Cong to retreat to sanctuaries in

To explain the entry, Birddog, in Figure 6, it is necessary to study the background of contemporary
countennsurgency aaivity within the United States Leon Jawarsky. in his book, The Right and the Power
(4) stated,

" General Haig moved right on, and his sof^ voice grew grave 'I am putting the patriotic
monkey on your back, Mr Jawarsky The situation in this country is almost
revolutionary Things are about to come apart Our only hope in stabilizing the situation
is for the President to be able to announce that someone in whom the country has
confidence has agreed to serve.'"


To make sense of Matt's case, one must try to perceive what men in authority perceived at that time There
is evidence in the above quotation that Haig's perception was one of imminent revolution It was not likely
a threat of revolution in the streets, or even the kind of violent terrorism Europe and Latin Amenca was
experiencing I would suggest that the threat of revolution was related to cnmes of information Perhaps
radical groups were perceived as posmg a threat to federal information systems Matt was searching for
MIAs who had been recycled through Eastern Bloc countries in an effort by the Soviet Union to penetrate
our most sensitive military systems

"What I have learned in my study, and 1 cannot describe this in great detail at the present
because the study is only have finished, is that this dilemma becomes an impasse In many
espionage cases the FBI will not even begin the investigation and the Justice Department
rarely prosecutes because investigation and the Justice Department rarely prosecutes
because investigation or prosecution is fruitless The intelligence community has
determined that to provide and disclose the information first to the FBI or the Justice
Department and uhimately to the defendant or the coun will jeopardize national security
There are cases of great notoriety such as the Rosenberg case, where the government
takes the risk and proceed But in every case, including the Rosenberg case, this risk
must be taken "

What seems to happen in these cases is that the defendant who has engaged in the most
heinous form of espionage, who has taken the most sensitive of information has the
greatest likelihood of enjoying immunity from prosecution Because the more sensitive
the information involved in the cnminal case, the more likely it is that the Department of
Justice cannot prosecute the case."(5)

Matt believed in this operation because, when captured, his interrogator was not Vietnamese Former
Soviet intelligence officials have testified before Congress recently, corroborating the fears of those who
planned Operation Birddog

Veterans of clandestine special operations are among the most hidden casualties of the Vietnam war What
they have to tell us is very different from other Vietnam combat veterans, because, even more than combat
veterans in general, they tell us, like' Dustin Hoffman in Mad Dogs, what we never wanted to know about
ourselves At vulnerable times in our lives, under certain circumstances, anyone of us is capable of
dehumanizing our fellow human beings with intentional acts of incredible cruelty and violence

As counterterror becomes a more integral part of our national defense and domestic security, the special
problems of the disavowed special operations personnel cannot be glibly and cavalierly shoved aside by
agencies like the Veterans Administration whose special mission it is to provide clinical services to the war
wounded - not to enforce a national ethic As Soviet psychiatnsts will testify nght here, we as psychiatrists
must be careftil which drums we march to It would be comforting to believe that the Phoenix project was
tightly bundled by American legislative procedures within our department of Civil Operations and
Revolutionary Development Support in Saigon But, it wasn't and could never be in such a war as that

Matt would never have lost his Veterans Administration appeal for combat- induced traumatic damages He
would never have been sent to federal prison, nor rendered economically impoverished, without forensic
medical support for the case of his being an impostor Conversely, he never would have received eariy
release from the federal pnson system and a social security settlement had he not had forensic medical
support This obviously bnngs up the question of forensic medical ethics 1 quote an article from Harper's
magazine (6),

"Psychiatrists, like others know how to juggle feelings and words so that they can

act basely and till feel good, even virtuous And, finally when political pressure increases,
and the authonty is exercised and when avoiding the call for hospitalization is no longer
possible, corruption takes over the structure of professional existence How could
psychiatry fail to succumb'' In the immensely bureaucratized and ultimately value-free
society, the classical oaths and venties give way entirely when the anonymous muscle of
authonty is flexed. Except in rare cases, fear and the need to survive guarantee this "

"So we are dealing with ambiguous and complex circumstances The misdiagnoses are
influenced primarily by real or assumed pressure, some are influenced more by a genuine
perception of illness, some more by the psychiatiisi's belief in the system, and some

by a corrupt cynicism We are dealing, in other words, with a professional vulnerable to
the greatest pressures, protected by the fewest safe-guards, and practiced by people who
belong to a species of beings known as Homo S

"Yet the profession is still psychiatry, and that species is only a mynad of humankind
Where then is the eviP Having acknowledged complexity what can we condemn'' Do we
condemn psychiatry only for those cases in which pure cynicism and outnght

corruption prevail? Or do we also condemn it for those cases in which cynicism is merely
subsidiary'' Just dealing with the complexity blunts our response to abuse If we try too
hard to understand it all, we may be left with nothing to say while the abuse - and
misdiagnosis - goes on"


"But there is evil There is systemic evil It is evil that circumstances should conspire so
that some psychiatrists actually do see dissidents as ill - dissidents who would be judged
healthy by psychiatnsts anywhere else If the misdiagnoses were simply a matter of the
(authority's) ordering and psychiatrists obeying, then we could condemn only the orderers
and the obeyers But it is more frightening that a political culture could arise in which
orders do not have to be given because no one has to be told, in which people,
psychiatrists included, act to satisfy expectations they are not even sure exist And it is
more damning that such a culmre can distort the way people - psychiatrists included - see
one another, so that courage is perceived as madness and deviance as disease "

This is a relevant article, although titled "Diagnosing Soviet Dissidents", by Walter Reich, MD , Harper's
magazine, August, 1978 In counterpoint to Dr Reich's statement, I quote a poem written by Mattt while
incarcerated in the county jail


Once in Vietnam, I saw a boy, sport of our fear, hurled in front
of a deuce and a half

When war is over, so is youth and the tasic of rebuilding for
poets and madmen.

But poets commit suicide and madmen go sane, which is, of
course, suicide also.

Who notices.

Memorials are a posthumous humor


Biden, Joseph R , Jr , "The Price of Secrecy", Address to Bowdoin College,
Brunswick, Maine 1977

Wright, C, Liebert, J . MD, Smith, D, PhD , Harris, G, MD,
"Team Approach to Pre-sentence", The Probe , p 19-22, 1979.

Merrill, D , Winn, S , Ted Bundv. The Killer Next Door.
Bantom Books, 1980

Jaworski, Leon, The Right and the Power.
Gulf Publishing Company, 1976

Biden, Joseph R , Jr , The Price of Secrecy", Address to Bowdoin College,
Brunswick, Maine 1977.

Reich, Walter, MD, "Diagnosing Soviet Dissidents",
Harper's . August 1978



Figure 2

9/25/75 , . ^„

TC, Major Smith, St. Louis, Mo.

Figure 3

Information received from Personnel Records Center. St.
Louis, Missouri by telephone.

Oischar,. d,t. - A.gust 27, 1970 a, 2nd Le. Honor.bU dl.cMr,.,
general discharge.

Febrlarf?967°"AP-l '967 - Fort Lewis, WA.
April 1967 - April 10, 1967 - Maryland

Julv 29 1970. submimd letter through CO to General for
'resignation. Ft. Myers is where he resigned.


~ . ., ^f caot which was not authorized. Unauthorized
^arsenre^rorcUssr^^^Nof :earing proper uniform.

Inadequate personal i ty, 1 ow self-esteem
Able to distinguish right from wrong.

For Psychiatric Report, write to:

Commanding Officer, U.S. Army
Reserve Component
Personnel Administration
9700 Page Boulevard
St. Louis, Mo. 63132

On envelope, be sure Lo type " P L^FAS^_^i ^n u i

and underline In red.



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iLost in order to li-^e up to his erasplc. In assuming duties, of S.4 in ny detachtent
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ing potential for rapid dcTelopc.cnt,

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of his i-4 shop wit.-, the drive that io not aften found in a person with trio fccsirr-
mrint. iUring the entire period of his aauigiuient ho wao faced with j^ereon-jll s.hort-
ftgco. Tnis nade it difficult fnr hia to hf.ve the proper oiainteiionce pullei on his
TOi e-.'Jlr.:tent, but v/lth the Irltictlve and adr.ptability required of a junicr officer
hie equinv.vnt wis >:»ot in a conctant stati of readiness, iie has been •«jirn'>d other

Figure 7


John Liebol, MX).


Police and military occupations share the uniquely necessary capability for delivery of deadly force
within an authoritarian command structure Although these two distinctive organizational features vary greatly
in execution from orgaiuzation to organization, they nevertheless are essential determinants of illness and
health within police and military personnel It is the purpose of this paper, therefore, to demonstrate how
police and military commands can reduce both the inadence and seventy of stress disorders among their
personnel through specific management techmques applied to the issues of both deadly force and chain of

Occupational stress disorders present in a variety of psychiatric syndromes including classic
posttraumatic stress disorder: stress-induced dysthymic, somatoform, and impulse disorders, popularly referred
to as burnout; panic, anxiety, and phobia disorders; or adjustment disorders Personality traits and disorders
are more significant determinants of psychopathology in adjustment disorders than in occupational burnout
where the seventy of chrome environmental stress overwhelms a broad spectrum of psychological defense
patterns, both healthy and predisposed to morbidity These psychiatric disorders are frequently associated with
or complicated by other conditions as follows: Traumatic brain disorders, essential hypertension, headache,
coronary artery disease, peptic ulcer disease, motility disturbances of the gastrointestinal tract, asthmatic
bronchitis, and a variety of traumatic amputations and internal injuries.

Additionally there are a number of extremely important modifying factors, which, although not in and
of themselves overwhelmingly traumatic, nevertheless modulate the degree of experienced trauma.

There are also factors umque to military and police occupations that eiOiance trauma. Radical shifts
from passivity to overactivity overwhelm the ego. Unexpected danger from devastating booby traps,
misinformation, and security breaches are just a few examples of unexpected trauma Often personnel are in
umque situations where they are exposed to brutality as a pariicipani. victim, or third party Military and
police persormel cannot avoid situations where a backup unit or partner uses excessive or sadistic force, a
brutalized victim needs attention, or they themselves are terrorized in riots or guerilla warfare.

Another important factor is the authority figures upon whom these personnel depend If they are
viewed as urueliable. unconcerned, inexperienced, or politically motivated, the essential structure of command
and trust begins to break down The ramifications of loss of trust are immense. An untrustworthy command
structure enhances the development of poor morale, which eventually leads to a breakdown of individual
values with resultant increased brutality, vigilantism, drug abuse, corruption, isolation, and guilt about sadistic
acts coimnitted.

Ambivalent situations, for example, where one has to make a decision to shoot or not to shoot, also
enhance the trauma. Such situations become especially provocative when military or police personnel's split-
second decisions are examined at length by their superiors or the public.

Personality traits and patterns result in marked variations of psychopathology. except in response to
extreme trauma that would overwhelm any ego. Individuals with a background of childhood brutality and /or
molestation can be especially susceptible to the development of grandiose rescue expectations and then become
eiuaged and depressed as the defense of denial fails. At such a point, these individuals often recognize their
own vulnerability and become extremely frightened and depressed.



B.T., a police officer, had been abandoned by her mother shortly after birth She was moved
frequently between relatives and foster homes. At one point she was tied to a stake in the
back yard with the family dog. She was so poorly nourished that she developed a swollen
abdomen and lightly colored hair, hallmarks of severe malnutrition. She wu finally adopted
at age five. Her duties as an officer often brought her into contact with traumatized children
and adolescents Often these individuals had suffered brutality at the hands of their parents
or had been beaten and raped. As she began to recogiuze that she could not rescue such
individuals, she began to overidentify with them, resulting in feelings of rage, helplessness,
and despair She eventually became '.otally disabled, as her emotions became so labile that
she could not perform her duties reliably.

Those individuals who were treated cruelly or brutally as children can, of course, also become brutal.

Another police officer was brutally beaten by his father. As a young adolescent, he was
hung by his hands from the cellar rafters and beaten with a hose. As a policeman, he
became extremely distant and numb, and overreacted to threatening situations. As he
became increasingly unable to suppress his rage, which was really directed toward his father,
he eventually had to be removed from duty, as he became extremely brutal and seriously
injured several civilians.

The age at which trauma occurs can also play an important role in continuing personality
development. This was particularly true in Vietnam, where immature 18 year olds, who were completely
unprepared for what they saw, became exceptionally sensitive to issues of overidealization and dependency
upon authority figures When expectations associated with such needs were not met, personality development
arrested with consequent psychopathology.

A Vietnam veteran reported that he arrived in Vietnam terrified at age 18. He became very
dependent upon authority figures and consequently very loyal. After several months, a
reliable, consistent, and benevolent leader was killed and replaced by a "90-day Wonder.'
He then found himself in an unconscionable situation. He witnessed friends killed
secondary to careless commands. He felt he was sent on needless missions that were
suicidal. He was forced to dig up putrefying enemy soldiers who had been dead for several
days, simply to increase the body count. He gradually lost all respect for authority and
became homicidal. Since his return to the States, he has had chronic conflicts with authority
figures, manifested by repeated altercations with police and an inability to maintain
employment secondary to an attitude of 'not taking any bullshit from anyone.'

Symptomatology that appears to be secondary to personality disorders, particularly Borderline
Personality Disorder, can actually be due to compensatory defenses mixed with continuing psychopathology
secondary to trauma For example, a pattern of pervasive depression with repeated suicide attempts, drug
abuse, isolation, preoccupation with the meaninglessness of life, and an inability to form intimate relationships
can appear to be secondary to Borderline Personality, but may acnially be due to symptoms associated with
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Such 'adaptations' become fixed and endure and take on the appearance of a
personality disorder

The excessive demands for isolation of affect and control in the compulsive personality are particularly
prone to the unexpected and uncontrollable threats to life and emotional dysregulation. Reaction formations
against sadistic or violent impulses in these individuals leave them exceedingly vulnerable to ego disintegration.

Excessive uses of defenses such as grandiosity, projection, and splitting can be devastating, of course,

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on VeterViewpoints on Veterans Affairs and related issues : hearing before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, May 4, 1994 → online text (page 11 of 23)