Thursday, October 20, 2016


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Editor’s Update:

On May 28, Liberty News Now published an article based on a story written by Gabriella Morrongiello that appeared on Campus Reform – a web-based college news site – about the suspension of Jeremy Rawls, a Marine combat veteran who is a Mississippi College student.


In the report Liberty News Now relied on for its story, Campus Reform stated that Mr. Rawls was suspended from Mississippi College specifically because of his request to switch counselors.

In a written release by Mississippi College, the college stated emphatically that:

“This statement is not true.” “While Mississippi College cannot specify the details related to Mr. Rawls temporary suspension, we want to firmly deny these accusations. In addition, the suspension did not occur because he is a Marine combat veteran.

Following the initial interim suspension, Mr. Rawls was allowed to continue his coursework. Mississippi College officials were able to meet with Rawls late last week to discuss his return to his student worker position.

Mississippi College President Lee Royce said in the statement that MC is recognized as one of the most-veteran friendly institutions of higher learning in the country and that:

“MC would never intentionally place a student in a situation creating the sort of discomfort Rawls experienced”

“MC is committed to honoring our U.S. Armed Forces student veterans, current service members, veteran dependents and survivors with veteran-focused educational and student support services.” “MC enthusiastically welcomes the men and women who have served our country.”

Liberty News Now regrets any confusion arising out of its initial report.

As published on May 28, 2015:

Jeremy Rawls, a Marine who went on two combat tours in Iraq, just got kicked out of Mississippi College—because he asked for a different therapist than the one he was assigned.

Rawls suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which afflicts many veterans due to the atrocities they saw in war. When he received a counselor through the university, he was paired with a female therapist who wore traditional Muslim dress. Rawls requested a different counselor.

“It’s not that I didn’t want to participate,” Rawls explained. “I didn’t want to traumatize her and it wasn’t a good environment to be talking about [my PTSD] with that specific person.”

Rawls alleges that his requests to change counselors were completely ignored by the university, until one day they sent him a letter telling him that he was suspended from school until they could conduct a mental evaluation. They also labeled him a threat to campus safety, which Rawls found especially insulting and “extremely offensive.”

After outcry, Mississippi College was forced to issue a formal statement backtracking Rawls’s suspension. They claim that his suspension was not because of his counselor switch request, but did not elaborate on why Rawls was suspended. Regardless, he’s now back on campus and free to take classes.

Rawls, however, is taking his recent notoriety as a platform to warn other veterans about the misconceptions the public has about PTSD—and how, if they’re not careful, they could get caught in the increasingly rigid liberal education bureaucracy.

“If they’ll do this to me, and I’m one of the most outspoken veterans on campus, they’ll definitely do this to others,” Rawls explained. “They asked me what I wanted and I told them I want to be a normal student.”

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In an exercise of callous gutter humor, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) official Robin Paul, manager of the Seamless Transition Integrated Care Clinic at the Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Indianapolis emailed a picture of an elf committing suicide to her employees at the center.

The cartoon that was e-mailed to center personnel leading up to Christmas last December drew outrage from Veterans’ groups who are working to reduce the epidemic of suicide by returning veterans from Iran and Iraq who are having difficulty readjusting to civilian life – many after multiple deployments to conflict zones over the past decade.

Many returning veterans are coming home to broken families, chronic unemployment, depression and anxiety leading to self-medication through drugs or alcohol and homelessness without the benefit of psychological counseling, cognitive therapy and psychiatric care – help that often comes with a stigma of weakness by soldiers who have faced the horrors of war.

The problem of veteran suicide is a top priority at the VA and veteran groups wonder why it took more than two months for VA administrators to discipline Paul for sending it. In addition to an image of an elf committing suicide, the illustration showed an elf begging for much-need pain medication at a VA clinic.

Officials at Roudebush did not take action until The Indianapolis Star contacted the center earlier this month. Center spokeswoman Julie Webb said:

“The email is totally inappropriate and does not convey our commitment to veterans,”…“We apologize to our veterans and take suicide and mental health treatment seriously, striving to provide the highest quality.”

Ken Hylton, Commander of the Indiana Department of the American Legion told The Indianapolis Star that the cartoon was:

“It is a slap in the face to our recent and past veterans suffering from mental health issues every single day,”…“These men and women went to war and do not deserve this type of ridicule. This is a disgusting display of mockery. This is supposedly someone who is caring for our veterans, and we in the Indiana American Legion are disgusted.”

Legislation to deal with the problem of veteran suicide received rare bipartisan support this past February with the passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which aims to bring down the suicide rate of 22 veteran suicides per day. Jonah Bennett writing for the Daily Caller News Foundation reported that:

“The law is named after Clay Hunt, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who committed suicide back in 2011 after battling with the Department of Veterans Affairs for proper PTSD treatment.”

“A full 18 months after his death, the VA finally decided to boost Hunt’s PTSD disability rating to 100 percent after appeals. Current figures place veterans at 1 out of every 5 suicides in the nation. Annual, third-party reviews of military mental health facilities will now be required at the VA.”



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