Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Camp Lejeune whistle-blower fired

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 16, 2009

A psychiatrist who tried to prevent Fort Hood-style violence among Marines about to “lose it” instead loses his job

By Mark Benjamin

Last April, two Marines at Camp Lejeune predicted to a psychiatrist that some Marine back from war was going to “lose it.” Concerned, the psychiatrist asked what that meant. One of the Marines responded, “One of these guys is liable to come back with a loaded weapon and open fire.”

They weren’t talking about Marines suffering from a tangle of mental and religious angst, like news reports suggest haunted the alleged Fort Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. The risk they reported at Camp Lejeune was broader and systemic. Upon returning home, troops suffering mental health problems were getting dumped into an overwhelmed healthcare system that responded ineptly to their crises, the men reported, and they also faced harassment from Marine Corps superiors ignorant of the severity of their problems and disdainful of those who sought psychiatric help.

As Dr. Kernan Manion investigated the two Marines’ claims about conditions at the North Carolina military base, the largest Marine base on the East Coast, he found they were true. Manion, a psychiatrist hired last January to treat Marines coming home from war with acute mental problems, warned his superiors of looming trouble at Camp Lejeune in a series of increasingly urgent memos.

But instead of being praised for preventing what might have been another Fort Hood massacre, Manion was fired by the contractor that hired him, NiteLines Kuhana LLC. A spokeswoman for the firm says it let Manion go at the Navy’s behest. The Navy declined to comment on this story.

While military officials and the media examine whether the Army missed warning signs that might have indicated an unhinged Nidal Hasan was capable of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Manion’s Camp Lejeune story is a cautionary tale of what happens to those who blow the whistle on conditions for military personnel with mental problems.

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