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View Full Version : Vet's troubled homecoming: 'I called for help and now I'm facing prison time'



Tylerdurden
08-10-2008, 06:11 AM
Suicidal ex-Marine from SR calls 911, but war trophy brings weapons charge; veterans advocate calls for counseling


A former Marine and Iraq war veteran from Santa Rosa is facing a felony weapons charge stemming from a call for help he made while contemplating suicide.


http://srimg.ny.publicus.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=SR&Date=20080807&Category=NEWS&ArtNo=808070323&Ref=AR&MaxW=250&border=0 (http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20080807/NEWS/808070323/0/news07#) JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat
Iraq war veteran Matthew Jensen served three tours of duty and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. Jensen says he still suffers from PTSD, but is now taking medication and feels stable.


Matthew Jensen, 24, said he was deeply depressed and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder from his multiple tours in Iraq when he called 911 on May 31.
Jensen, a 6-foot-2-inch former infantryman, surrendered to police unarmed and without incident and was placed on a psychiatric hold that night. Officers confiscated a 1940s-design assault rifle they found on the floor of Jensen's parents' home on Princeton Drive.
Three weeks later, the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office issued a warrant for his arrest, charging Jensen with possession of an illegal assault rifle.
Police said the rifle, an SKS, had a "folding stock" and was found with a "high capacity magazine" -- two characteristics of an illegal weapon. A sniper scope and a bayonet were attached to the rifle.
Jensen, now a corporal in the California National Guard's Santa Rosa-based 579th Engineer Battalion, said he brought the rifle back from Iraq as a "war trophy" and gave it to his father.
Jensen said he took the rifle from a dead insurgent sniper, killed by Marines in his unit in 2004. Had he left the weapon in Iraq, Jensen believes it would have fallen back into the hands of enemy forces.
He said he removed the rifle's firing pin and firing mechanism and threw them away.
"You can't load it. You can't fire it," said Paul Carreras, Jensen's attorney.
Whether the weapon is technically illegal is a "gray area," Carreras said.
But the bigger issue, the former Marine and his attorney said, is how Sonoma County treats mentally distressed veterans.
"I called for help, and now I'm facing prison time," Jensen said. If convicted of the single felony charge, he could spend up to a year in county jail or prison.
Jensen's case is similar to last year's felony prosecution of an Iraq war veteran from Forestville, who fired several shots from a semiautomatic rifle into a woodpile at his parents' home in April 2006.
Lorin Smith's case became a cause celebre among Sonoma County veterans, who showed up at court hearings to support him. Ultimately, the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, and Smith agreed to serve three years of probation.
Jensen should get treatment, not incarceration, said Peter Cameron of Santa Rosa, executive director of the Vietnam Veterans of California, a nonprofit service organization.
"He should not be put away in jail for one mistake," Cameron said. Counseling "could save his life."
There are community services available for Jensen, Cameron said, and state law allows a judge to take a veteran's combat service and trauma into account in resolving a case.
"Not every district attorney's office is willing to look at that," Cameron said.
Calls to District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua were returned by Assistant District Attorney Christine Cook, who said the decision to file a felony charge against Jensen was based on a review of the police report by Deputy District Attorney James Casey.
"It's a pending case," Cook said, noting that a preliminary hearing is set for Sept. 23. As the case progresses, she said, there will be "a continuous evaluation" of the evidence and of "the appropriate disposition."
Cook said the Smith case was "an entirely different" set of facts and circumstances. It involved the "discharge of a weapon in a public place" and not alleged possession of an assault weapon.
Carreras, a former police officer, said the circumstances of Jensen's case "do not rise to a felony."
Lt. Col. Jon Siepmann of the California National Guard said he couldn't comment on Jen-sen's case specifically, but said that military personnel are generally not allowed to bring weapons home from a war theater.
It is "common practice" for the National Guard to discharge a soldier convicted of a felony, Siepmann said, adding that every case is considered on its own.
Jensen, a 2001 graduate of Santa Rosa High School, was a school buddy of Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick O'Day and Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, both of whom were killed in Iraq.
Jensen served combat tours with the Marines during the Iraq invasion in 2003 and again during the bloody battle of Fallujah in 2004. He returned with the National Guard last year with a sense of foreboding. "This time I think it's payback," he told The Press Democrat at the time.
On the night he called 911, Jensen said he was depressed over an argument and a breakup with his wife. He said he told the dispatcher he was considering suicide and that he had a weapon in the house.
"I said, 'I need help,' " Jensen said.
Police took him to Sutter Medical Center, where he received an injection that put him to sleep, Jensen said. He awoke at a Veterans Administration hospital in Palo Alto, where he was held for several days.
Jensen said Tuesday he still suffers from PTSD, but is taking medication and feels stable. He said he has not consumed alcohol since the night of the crisis.
Jensen, who was never jailed, appeared in court last month and is free under supervision by the Probation Department.
The SKS is a semiautomatic carbine originally made by the Russians during World War II, but is now widely manufactured and available for sale in California. It is a predecessor of the AK-47
Jensen said the SKS is prevalent in Iraq, used by insurgents and by some U.S. troops because it functions well in the arid, sandy environment.
The SKS he gave his father cannot be fired, nor can it hold a magazine, Jensen said.
You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.



http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20080807/NEWS/808070323/0/news07

The Bigfella
08-10-2008, 06:36 AM
Oh no - the thought police are disarming the nut cases. Its all going to pot now eh?

Tylerdurden
08-10-2008, 06:42 AM
Oh no - the thought police are disarming the nut cases. Its all going to pot now eh?

3 tours you A-hole. As you have never seen what he has I can understand your ignorance. Nice to make comments when you have no experience your self Dick Cheney.

LeeG
08-10-2008, 06:49 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Rosa,_California


Horticulturalist Luther Burbank lived in Santa Rosa for over 50 years. He said of Sonoma County, "I firmly believe, from what I have seen, that this is the chosen spot of all this earth as far as Nature is concerned." For many years the City's slogan was, "The City Designed For Living".

...

Forbes Magazine ranked the Santa Rosa metropolitan area 185th out of 200, on its 2007 list of Best Places For Business And Careers [14]. It was second on the list five years before. The area was downgraded because of an increase in the cost of doing business, and reduced job growth--both blamed on increases in the cost of housing.

Tom Hunter
08-10-2008, 06:51 AM
The article doesn't say the police are disarming the nutcases, it says they are charging them with felony weapons possession.

Years ago I was charged with felony weapons possession, for Arming Violent Thespians. I was carrying props for a production of Macbeth in my car when I got stopped for speeding. Sometimes the police make decisions that don't seem very sensible when publicised, because they are not sensible at all.

Tylerdurden
08-10-2008, 06:51 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad

I don't know where Lee was going with his post but I think it has to do with the fact that Veterans should not be allowed to live in such community's.

capt jake
08-10-2008, 06:55 AM
Weapons aside, at least he received the help he asked for. Our system does not work well for suicidal people, sadly. Most times when people call, they are held for just a few hours and then released. I am glad, in this case, to see that a person who is reaching out, received the help they so disparately needed.

Just last week we stood by during a SWAT intervention on a suicidal subject. After several hours, he came out and was taken into custody. 2 days later, we were back at the same location for the same thing! This person obviously did not get the help he was in need of, because he was released and the whole cycle started over once again.

LeeG
08-10-2008, 06:58 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falluja

Tylerdurden
08-10-2008, 07:03 AM
http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c350/mudhutwarrior/blow_flies_big.jpg

LeeG
08-10-2008, 07:21 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PTSD

PTSD displays biochemical changes in the brain and body that differ from other psychiatric disorders such as major depression. Individuals diagnosed with PTSD respond more strongly to a dexamethasone suppression test than individuals diagnosed with clinical depression.[citation needed] In addition, most PTSD also show a low secretion of cortisol and high secretion of catecholamine in urine and the norepinephrine/cortisol ratio is consequently higher than comparable non-diagnosed individuals.[citation needed] This is in contrast to the normative fight-or-flight response, in which both catecholamine and cortisol levels are elevated after exposure to a stressor.[citation needed] Brain catecholamine levels are low, and corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) concentrations are high.[citation needed] Together, these findings suggest abnormality in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). Given the strong cortisol suppression to dexamethasone in PTSD, HPA axis abnormalities are likely predicated on strong negative feedback inhibition of cortisol, itself likely due to an increased sensitivity of glucocorticoid receptors.[11] Some researchers have associated the response to stress in PTSD with long-term exposure to high levels of norepinephrine and low levels of cortisol, a pattern associated with improved learning in animals.[citation needed] Translating this reaction to human conditions gives a pathophysiological explanation for PTSD by a maladaptive learning pathway to fear response through a hypersensitive, hyperreactive and hyperresponsive HPA axis.[12]

Low cortisol levels may predispose individuals to PTSD; following war trauma, Swedish soldiers serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina with low pre-service salivary cortisol levels had a higher risk of reacting with PTSD symptoms, following war trauma, than soldiers with normal pre-service levels.[13] Because cortisol is normally important in restoring homeostasis after the stress response, it is thought that trauma survivors with low cortisol experience a poorly contained—that is, longer and more distressing—response, setting the stage for PTSD. However, there is considerable controversy within the medical community regarding the neurobiology of PTSD and a review of existing studies on this subject showed no clear relation between cortisol levels and PTSD. Only a slight majority have found a decrease in cortisol levels while others have found no effect or even an increase.[14]

ishmael
08-10-2008, 07:42 AM
"Weapons aside, at least he received the help he asked for.

Eh? What!!? Being arrested on felony weapons charges is receiving the help he needed? You've got a strange idea of help.

The gun may have been illegal under California law, I don't know. But as it wasn't loaded, he wasn't brandishing it, and it may not even be functional, in a just society it shouldn't come into play at all. Even if it was fully functional, the guy wasn't threatening anyone with it. He was asking for help.

A temporary involuntary commitment(common with potential suicides,) so you could get the guy started on some psychological care, might have been in order. Ya think? Arresting him on idiot weapons charges is absurd. Worse than absurd, it's criminal. Whoever issued that order should be prosecuted.

capt jake
08-10-2008, 07:44 AM
"Weapons aside, at least he received the help he asked for.

Eh? What!!? Being arrested on felony weapons charges is receiving the help he needed? You've got a strange idea of help.

The gun may have been illegal under California law, I don't know. But as it wasn't loaded, he wasn't brandishing it, and it may not even be functional, in a just society it shouldn't come into play at all. Even if it was fully functional, the guy wasn't threatening anyone with it. He was asking for help.

A temporary involuntary commitment(common with potential suicides,) so you could get the guy started on some psychological care, might have been in order. Ya think? Arresting him on idiot weapons charges is absurd. Worse than absurd, it's criminal. Whoever issued that order should be prosecuted.

Ish, 'weapons aside'!!! Meaning, aside from the weapons argument and the related charges. Read the article and you will see that he received care!

ishmael
08-10-2008, 07:55 AM
Cap,

I confess I only skimmed the article at first. I'm glad he's receiving care. I apologize for my knee-jerk reaction.