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Army surrenders to 'coward' GI
UPI ^ | 7/15/04 | Dan Olmsted

Posted on 07/15/2004 4:13:00 PM PDT by ebersole

Edited on 07/15/2004 4:16:13 PM PDT by Admin Moderator. [history]

WASHINGTON, July 15 (UPI) -- The Army has dropped all legal action against a soldier who was charged with cowardice in Iraq, apparently because an Army malaria drug made him sick.

The case of Staff Sgt. Georg-Andreas Pogany drew national attention last year because he was the first soldier charged with cowardice -- an offense punishable by death -- since the Vietnam era. Pogany countered that his only offense was asking for help after suffering a panic attack caused by mefloquine, an anti-malaria drug that lists "panic attacks" as a side effect.

"There are currently no disciplinary charges pending against Staff Sgt. Pogany," Special Operations spokesman Blake Waltman told United Press International Thursday.

"Additional information became available over time that indicates that Staff Sgt. Pogany may have medical problems that require treatment. Our primary concern is the health of Staff Sgt. Pogany."

A number of soldiers at Fort Carson in Colorado, where Pogany is based, have also claimed the drug caused severe mental and physical problems -- including suicidal feelings and homicidal rage.

Fort Carson did not return calls seeking comment. Pogany had no immediate comment.

Pogany fought the cowardice charge, which later was downgraded to dereliction of duty. Last month a Navy doctor diagnosed Pogany with brain-stem and vestibular problems likely caused by the drug, which is also known as Lariam. He received treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and returned to Fort Carson last Saturday.

Thursday he met with military officials who told him the charges were being dropped because of evidence he had a medical problem, although they refused to identify the problem. Waltman, at Special Operations, said he did not know what medical problem was involved.

Pogany was attached to 10th Special Forces in Iraq when he suffered a panic attack last year after seeing a dead body. For months Pogany was caught in legal and medical limbo, waiting for the Army to pursue charges against him and evaluate a list of mental and physical symptoms that started when he took mefloquine in Iraq.

Pogany's tests last month by a Navy doctor at the Pentagon's Spatial Orientation Center in San Diego showed eye and ear abnormalities and balance problems consistent with reported side effects of the drug, his medical records state. He is one of 11 service members diagnosed in the past few weeks with damage to the brainstem and vestibular, or balance, system after being given the drug while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Last summer the Food and Drug Administration took aggressive steps to make sure patients taking mefloquine are warned in writing of the possible side effects, including anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia and suicidal thoughts.

While the military is required by law to record the use of mefloquine in soldiers' medical records, none of the soldiers diagnosed at the San Diego center had the drug included in their records, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

The Army developed mefloquine in the 1970s and it was cleared for use in the United States in 1989, It has been taken by 5 million Americans. Two years ago, UPI reported that mounting evidence suggests it has caused mental problems so severe that in a number of cases it has led to suicide.

Pogany, 33, said he had just taken his third weekly pill when he suffered the attack after seeing the body of a mangled Iraqi. He raised the issue of mefloquine after news outlets including UPI asked if he had taken it.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: Colorado; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: cowardice; lariam; mefloquine; military; pogany; specialforces

1 posted on 07/15/2004 4:13:02 PM PDT by ebersole
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To: ebersole; Ragtime Cowgirl

BTTT

I remember this story.


2 posted on 07/15/2004 4:27:37 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: fourdeuce82d; El Gato; JudyB1938; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc; ...

PING


3 posted on 07/15/2004 4:29:03 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: ebersole

Attached to 10th Special Forces? I could understand a regular army person sufferring from something like that, but the Forces are some damn mentally strong people. Seems odd.


4 posted on 07/15/2004 4:36:19 PM PDT by somemoreequalthanothers
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To: ebersole

How is he a coward if he had a reaction to the drug?


5 posted on 07/15/2004 4:37:58 PM PDT by cyborg
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To: somemoreequalthanothers
He was regular Army. He was not SF qualified, but rather he was assigned to this particular team as an interrogator
6 posted on 07/15/2004 4:39:37 PM PDT by ebersole
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To: somemoreequalthanothers

Just because a soldier is attached to SF doesn't mean that he (or she, sometimes) is SF-qualified. It just means they're in a support position to the ODAs.


7 posted on 07/15/2004 4:40:51 PM PDT by Future Snake Eater ("Oh boy, I can't wait to eat that monkey!"--Abe Simpson)
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To: ebersole
Thursday he met with military officials who told him the charges were being dropped because of evidence he had a medical problem, although they refused to identify the problem.

Severe reactions to anti-malaria drugs is not exactly a twinkie defense.

I'm willing to cut him some slack, and also understand why the military wishes to make it all 'go away'.

These powerful drugs are needed for deployment, and in most cases are relatively safe - but also can be physically life altering in certain individuals.

8 posted on 07/15/2004 4:42:10 PM PDT by bikepacker67
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To: Future Snake Eater; ebersole

I see.


9 posted on 07/15/2004 4:43:41 PM PDT by somemoreequalthanothers
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To: ebersole

What a horrible headline!


10 posted on 07/15/2004 4:45:05 PM PDT by Shooter 2.5 (Vote a Straight Republican Ballot. Rid the country of dems.)
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To: ebersole

I disagree with your title!


11 posted on 07/15/2004 4:46:05 PM PDT by verity (The Liberal Media is America's Enemy)
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To: verity

I didn't come up with the title..Dan Olmsted and Mark Benjamin did...


12 posted on 07/15/2004 4:46:57 PM PDT by ebersole
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To: ebersole

Oh yeah, the devil made me do it. I was beaten as a child. I grew up poor. blah blah blah blah....Just someone else who doesnt want to take responsibility for their own actions.


13 posted on 07/15/2004 4:48:19 PM PDT by Dr. Marten (I donated to the Democratic Party today, but I forgot to flush it down the toilet....)
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To: somemoreequalthanothers

Better warriors through chemisty?


14 posted on 07/15/2004 4:50:06 PM PDT by Delta 21 (MKC USCG -ret)
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To: somemoreequalthanothers

Just because you are "attached" to SF does not mean you are SF.


15 posted on 07/15/2004 5:03:18 PM PDT by taxcontrol (People are entitled to their opinion - no matter how wrong it is.)
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To: somemoreequalthanothers

My son is in the Peace Corps in Africa, and they have to take Lariam. They were all told to be aware of those types of side effects, and many of his co-workers had severely troubling reactions, up to and including hallucinations and incredibly bizarre dreams.


16 posted on 07/15/2004 5:07:24 PM PDT by Bush_Democrat (Now EX-Democrat!!)
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To: Bush_Democrat

My youngest has complained that he has horrible dreams if he takes Lariam in the evening instead of the morning.


17 posted on 07/15/2004 5:12:30 PM PDT by armymarinemom (Ultimate Flip Flop->I support the Troops but not their mission)
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To: Bush_Democrat
They were all told to be aware of those types of side effects, and many of his co-workers had severely troubling reactions, up to and including hallucinations and incredibly bizarre dreams.

I have taken it before and it is nasty stuff. I didn't have hallucinations, but it need make me violently ill.

18 posted on 07/15/2004 5:18:39 PM PDT by killjoy (It takes a Kerry to burn a village.)
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To: Bush_Democrat

"including hallucinations and incredibly bizarre dreams."

Sounds like they could sell it on the street in California.


19 posted on 07/15/2004 5:27:16 PM PDT by Max Combined
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To: Bush_Democrat
Lariam, especially if taken over a long period of time can begin to wear on you. The dreams seem to keep you from resting properly. At least they did me. I finally decided to take my chances in exchange for blessed dreamless sleep. After all, how bad could it be?

You really don't want to know the answer to that one.

20 posted on 07/15/2004 5:28:17 PM PDT by Harmless Teddy Bear (This uniform needs something; something that says I'm here to destroy you, but with a sense of fun)
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To: Dr. Marten

I've had panic attacks due to an inner-ear infection. It's called vestibular disorder. Anyone who has never had a panic attack knows nothing about them, and is not fit to comment on them. If there's a hell on earth, it's a panic attack. And you have absolutely no control over them.


21 posted on 07/15/2004 5:36:15 PM PDT by Trickyguy
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To: Trickyguy

I agree with you, and we should not make judgements about those medications...they affect people differently, and stress is a factor. I am glad Army recognized this and is correcting his status.


22 posted on 07/15/2004 5:40:01 PM PDT by Kackikat
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To: killjoy
I would like some of these sunshine warriors to see an individual that had battle fatigue or a breakdown. I've seen some of the toughest cry like babies. Others go into a rage and have to be put into a strait jacket. Others crack completely and become mute with a distant look in their eyes registering on nothing. Some spend the rest of their lives in a padded cell in our veterans homes.

We have a group of smart alecks in this country that need to be right in the middle of a terrorist attack to improve their attitude. One of the problems we have in this country, combat has not been brought to their back yard. "Army surrenders to Coward GI" shows the stupidity of the author and is followed by El Macho individuals criticizing the GI for cowardice when his former actions showed real leadership and bravery. He broke with the possibility of malaria medication possibly contributing.

23 posted on 07/15/2004 5:46:24 PM PDT by meenie
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To: ebersole
I'm kind of torn on this one.

A non-SF interrogator attached to an ODA in 10th SFG freaks out, after being in country for three days, and seeing one dead Iraqi.

Not exactly Silver Star material.

I had the opportunity to work with some 10th Group guys a few months ago, and jokingly asked my collegues about 'their boy Pogany'. A few of them refered to him as 'he who shall not be named', and didn't care to elaborate. I did meet one guy who had to babysit Pogany after his breakdown, but before they shipped him home, and he had nothing good to say. I distinctly got the impression that he wasn't thought highly of before his episode, and his actions weren't out of character (except in intensity).

As a support guy, I'm used to the Green Berets not taking anyone without the tab seriously. At first, that is. If you prove competent at your job, motivated, tough and at least moderately skilled with a weapon, you'll become the ODAs lost kid brother. If you're incompetent, lazy, risk averse, or seriously lacking in weapons handling skill, you'll not fit in, and in their eyes ruin the reputation of your self, detachment, MOS, and possibly your entire branch.

So, I understand Pogany's position of having to work with a pack of snake eating killers that will initially treat you like a red headed step child with leprosy. The first time is pretty intimidating.

Now, it is possible that the drug (which God knows how many hundreds of thousands of people take on a weekly basis) did affect him. Given the already thin line of trust that existed, the ODA could have just assumed that he was a dirtbag, and cast him off.

Still, I can't shake the impression that this guy is a dirtbag, and is looking for an out. I mainly think that because of his actions after he returned home and came off the meds. An SF Group does not lack for medical personnel, so it strikes me as odd that this wouldn't have been noticed or thought of until now. If he only just now decided to go with 'the meds made me do it' angle, what was his reason for denying the cowardice charge before.

His actions, under what I would basically call negligible stress levels, are inexcusable. He simply did not see or experience enough for a person in his line of work to suffer the kind of breakdown he claims. Period. Yet he ran to the press to cry foul. Without any mitigating circumstances, there's no story: he's a coward. Now, months later, he seems to have found an excuse, but that doesn't explain why he thought he was innocent before.

So, maybe the meds did make him do it. I suppose it is possible. I still suspect that he's just another intel guy who probably didn't belong in the Army, much less in Group, and who failed badly when confronted with reality.

24 posted on 07/15/2004 5:56:36 PM PDT by Steel Wolf (The difference between neo and paleo conservative? How long have they been on FR?)
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To: somemoreequalthanothers
Being mentally strong would have nothing to do with a physical reaction to the drug. The fact that he had brainstem problems makes it highly likely that the drug was responsible for his actions.

Actually, it makes far more sense that it was the drug than that a Spec Ops guy would suffer from cowardice.

25 posted on 07/15/2004 6:05:01 PM PDT by McGavin999 (If Kerry can't deal with the "Republican Attack Machine" how is he going to deal with Al Qaeda)
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To: Steel Wolf

I read about his story about a month ago (either in Esquire or GQ). Apparently Pogany latched on to the medical condition excuse way after the fact. On the other hand, it did seem like the Army over-reacted--they likely don't have time for hand-holding or use for people who need it. In any case, I did not come away from that article with a sympathetic feeling for the guy (even though the author tried to lead the reader in that direction).


26 posted on 07/15/2004 6:05:21 PM PDT by rbg81
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To: Steel Wolf

Doesn't help the SF cause when two of the witnesses on the team aren't around to testify...Andrew keeps forgetting to tell the media that he got out of going to Iraq on the first rotation in February claiming marital problems and was trying to get out of going on the second rotation.


27 posted on 07/15/2004 6:40:58 PM PDT by ebersole
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To: McGavin999

Being mentally strong would have everything to do with overcoming a physical reaction. That is what advanced training teaches, overcoming cold, heat, pain, fear, etc. with the mind. A drug should not immediately render all that useless.


28 posted on 07/15/2004 6:42:07 PM PDT by somemoreequalthanothers
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To: somemoreequalthanothers

Yeah.....right.....OK. (Sheesh)


29 posted on 07/15/2004 6:53:20 PM PDT by McGavin999 (If Kerry can't deal with the "Republican Attack Machine" how is he going to deal with Al Qaeda)
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To: Harmless Teddy Bear

Yea, luckily my son has tolerated the lariam pretty well, but has been living with 'intestinal' upset pretty much constantly for the last 2 years. There's no sense in getting rid of the parasites/bacteria that causes it until he leaves the area, since he will just get it again from eating/drinking.


30 posted on 07/15/2004 7:04:36 PM PDT by Bush_Democrat (Now EX-Democrat!!)
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To: Harmless Teddy Bear

Is Lariam the big red horsepills? I've taken anti-malarial drugs for about a month on different occasions but don't remember the name. Also don't remember being warned of any side effects. After a port visit to Mombasa in 1985 a sailor on one of the ships in the battle group died of malaria. Wasn't caught even though they must have expected it since we were given the medicine.


31 posted on 07/15/2004 7:35:43 PM PDT by GATOR NAVY
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To: McGavin999

Please read the story! This guy was NOT Spec-Ops/SF!!!


32 posted on 07/15/2004 7:38:42 PM PDT by hurly (A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds!)
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To: Trickyguy
I agree with you. My wife is about the most solid person I've ever met, but she had a panic attack after the birth of our first child. It was frightening for both of us, but fortunately we were able to get help before anything bad happened.

She recently gave birth to our second child, but we were prepared and had her taking Prozac immediately after delivery. I also have worked from home since the birth, and it's been a wonderful experience.

33 posted on 07/15/2004 7:45:35 PM PDT by Trailerpark Badass
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To: neverdem
Don't know enough about this to have an opinion. Never took the dope (well, that dope)never been through the Q course, never been in combat.

Can't, or at least don't think I should, comment.

I will say this- (uhh...gues I'll comment after all.) I've seen fucked up dead people, and even my little eighty-deuce ass could hang...hard to imagine someone who had demonstrated much more tenacity, perserverance, and character than I ever had to would fold.

Who knows. Hope things work out for him.

34 posted on 07/15/2004 7:47:45 PM PDT by fourdeuce82d
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To: Dr. Marten

since I don't have the soldier's medical records in front of me, I cannot say that you are wrong in this case.

However, you may want to lighten up.

If a drug messes up your brain chemistry, you may suffer changes in personality and performance levels which have nothing to do with your own intents.

Vestibular problems are also no laughing matter.
I came down with viral labyrinthitis and "disequilibrium syndrome" while at Ft. Lewis in '91, and it turned me into a useless bundle of nerves for over a week... it happens when what your eyes see and what your balance mechanisms (in the inner ears) tell you simply don't add up - it affects a human very adversely at a subconscious level which has significant impact on that person's ability to consciously perform even simple tasks.

Don't sneer at this stuff unless you have been there.


35 posted on 07/15/2004 8:13:16 PM PDT by King Prout (Viggo Bozodozeus is your friend... Viggo Bozodozeus deserves all trust... submit to Viggo Bozodozeus)
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To: meenie
I would like some of these sunshine warriors to see an individual that had battle fatigue or a breakdown.

This picture says it all. Unfortunately I can't find a better image of it.


36 posted on 07/15/2004 8:16:01 PM PDT by killjoy (It takes a Kerry to burn a village.)
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To: meenie
I agree -- he risked a hell of alot by coming forward, and may God damn anyone who ostracizes him.

He was obviously thinking of the others around him rather than himself, and for that, I commend him. I hope that this is not a stigma that follows him around for the rest of his life...

I thank God that as a veteran, I never saw any action other than the cold war in a Titan II hole, but part of me is jealous of those who have. My father, a WWII Navy vet, assured me that the former is better than the latter, as have other combat vets, but still....
37 posted on 07/15/2004 8:25:30 PM PDT by baltodog (There are three kinds of people: Those who can count, and those who can't.)
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To: ebersole
For y'all's information. This article was written in January 2003, before the Iraq war even commenced. It links Lariam use to not only psychosis, but suicide-murders involving military personnel who'd taken it. Long but worth reading.

The Dark Side Of Lariam

38 posted on 07/15/2004 8:46:58 PM PDT by valkyrieanne
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To: Trickyguy

Ive had an inner-ear infection before. I couldnt walk for 4 days, but I sure as hell didnt dessert my country either. Sorry, I feel no sympathy.


39 posted on 07/15/2004 9:09:13 PM PDT by Dr. Marten (I donated to the Democratic Party today, but I forgot to flush it down the toilet....)
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To: Trickyguy

My sister and an old girlfriend had panic attacks. It is absolutely a horrific experience. They can happen for no reason at the most random times. I've gotten phone calls at work, at 3 in the morning to go comfort them.

If that drug caused the panic attack, I can understand.


40 posted on 07/15/2004 9:49:30 PM PDT by pragmatic_asian
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To: Steel Wolf

You can only rule out an adverse drug reaction by eliminating the drug. I know a doctor who didn't recognize an adverse drug reaction in himself until months after he stopped taking the drug which can effect the nervous system. It was not the typical and most worrisome of the drugs possible adverse effects, and other doctors were unable to recognize it either.


41 posted on 07/15/2004 9:59:11 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: fourdeuce82d

You can only rule out an adverse drug reaction by eliminating the drug.


42 posted on 07/15/2004 10:05:30 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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