• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal


A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.

End This Hidden Threat to Military Families

When our loved ones join the military, we know that wearing the uniform could cost them their lives.

Military family members do all kinds of calculations about the potential price of serving this nation. We run the numbers and wargame the risks; we bargain with God and make deals with the devil hoping our service member never becomes a casualty.

But what most of us don’t know is that when our family members sign up, they sign away some of their rights — and ours.

Under what’s called the Feres Doctrine, members of the Armed Forces and their families are prohibited from filing claims against the
government for death or injury arising from military service.

But it doesn’t just apply to military settings or deaths in the field. The Feres Doctrine also shields military medical providers from malpractice suits by troops — and their dependents.

Feres has been around since a 1950 Supreme Court ruling, but military recruiters never tell the families that it applies to them, too.

Tricia Radenz found out in the worst way possible. On June 9, 2009, her 11-year-old son, Daniel, hanged himself at home.

Like a lot of military kids, his father’s repeat tours were taking a toll. After his dad deployed to Iraq for the second time, military psychiatrists at Fort Hood’s Darnall Army Medical Center prescribed Daniel the drug Celexa.

Celexa has never been approved for pediatric use. It carries a “black box” label, referring to the FDA warning required for prescription drugs
that can cause serious injury or death.

In 2003, the U.S. government itself sued Forest Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Celexa, citing that Forest had withheld the negative results of a Celexa study on adolescents, and illegally marketed the drug for use by children when the FDA had only approved it for use in adults. The company paid $313 million in settlements and pled guilty to several crimes, including paying kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the drugs.

Daniel’s mom Tricia, an ER nurse, obtained Daniel’s medical records shortly after his death. She emailed Ft. Hood personnel asking why federal employees were prescribing Celexa to children when the federal government was suing the drug’s manufacturer, but never got an answer.

The records manager at Darnall said they “use FDA guidance” when prescribing black box medications. But the antidepressants they prescribe have explicit warnings about the increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults.

Apart from criminal negligence, what would explain a scenario where doctors prescribe Celexa to an 11-year-old child, combine it with more black-box meds, including Wellbutrin, Restoril, and Strattera, and then ignore the clear clinical worsening of Daniel’s symptoms, suicidality, and changes in behavior?

Tricia showed Daniel’s records to several lawyers, who all stated that his treatment was “clearly a case of malpractice, a failure to diagnose, and a failure to inform.”

“His providers killed him as sure as if they held a gun to his head and pulled the trigger,” Tricia said.

Issues of criminal liability and malpractice would have been addressed in court had Daniel’s father been a civilian. But since Daniel’s health care was provided by the United States Army, that wasn’t an option under Feres. That needs to change.

Recent efforts to overturn Feres include a congressional hearing and a federal suit being filed by the Whistleblower Law Firm. As we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, let’s ensure servicemembers and their families are no longer required to relinquish their rights in the name of freedom.

Stacy Bannerman is the author of Homefront 911 (2015). She’s testified before Congress several times and is the only military family member in U.S. history to return a Freedom Medal to the president.

More articles by:
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?