The case of Robert Bales may have gotten a lot more complex. The Staff Sergeant has been charged in the deaths of seventeen civilians in Afghanistan. Currently, his wife has been going on the PR defensive to make Bales look like a saint, but no matter how many claims of innocence are put out there, the fact that Bales may have massacred those civilians is still a possibility and even a probability. The complications come from some new information about an anti-malaria drug given to some of the troops.
Troops in Afghanistan have been given the anti-malarial drug mefloquine, aka Lariam. This drug has some serious psychiatric side effects including psychotic behavior, paranoia, and hallucinations. This drug has been implicated in a number of suicides and homicides, and that includes within the military. In 2009, use of the drug was restricted to certain circumstances, and that includes using the weekly pill in Afghanistan. The Army has restricted use of the drug for those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.
On his third tour of duty, Bales suffered a traumatic brain injury.
The Huffington Post reported that
On March 20, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson ordered a new, urgent review to make sure that troops were not getting the drug inappropriately. The task order from Woodson, obtained by The Huffington Post, orders an immediate “review of mefloquine prescribing practices” to be completed by the following Monday, six days after the order was issued.
The orders state that “Some deployed service members may be prescribed mefloquine for malaria prophylaxis without appropriate documentation in their medical records and without proper screening for contraindications.”
No word as to whether or not Bales ever took the medication. This is now the second major snafu to come to light since the alleged attack. Recently, it came to light that many troops with diagnoses of PTSD had those reversed by doctors who helped send them back into the field.
Via Huffington Post