Local News

Army Decides Not to Deploy Soldier With Mental Problems

Posted April 20, 2007 8:13 p.m. EDT

— An 82nd Airborne Division soldier who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder was given a reprieve Friday afternoon, meaning he won't have to deploy to Afghanistan with his unit Sunday.

During Spc. Ryan Hice's last deployment, a mortar landed next to him when he was in Khandahar. A member of 508th Infantry's 1st Battalion, he said has suffered from panic attacks and seizures since the incident.

"I have nightmares about it a lot -- almost every night," Hice said. "I'm not allowed to touch a weapon, and I'm on suicide watch."

Doctors at Womack Army Medical Center diagnosed Hice with post-traumatic stress disorder and adjustment disorder two weeks ago and ordered that he not be deployed until he has completed treatment.

But the Army was ready to deploy him this weekend until WRAL called Fort Bragg to ask about his situation.

A spokesman for the 82nd Airborne said the division's chain of command learned about Hice's situation only Friday. Hice will now remain at Fort Bragg until doctors clear him to return to Afghanistan, the spokesman said.

A soldier wouldn't be put in harm's way if he couldn't handle the job, the spokesman said.

But Hice said that's exactly what was about to happen before his reprieve.

"All I'm asking for is my treatment. They say they'll give it to me in Bagram (Afghanistan). But everyone knows I'll go straight back to the line," he said.

" I can't do it anymore," he said. "I've given the Army everything. I'm hurt, tired, confused."

Hice's mother, Therese Steinhoff, said her son needs help now and she fears he wouldn't have gotten it in a battle zone.

"To send a man into combat with a profile that says he can't be around weapons, you're sending him on a suicide mission," Steinhoff said.

Still, she and her son aren't certain what their fight with the Army will ultimately cost him.

"It could cost him his career. But if he doesn't get help, it could cost him his life," Steinhoff said.