I cannot in good conscience remain silent about the treatment of our wounded and injured service members and their families. I am writing this letter on behalf of my husband Sgt. Thomas Lee. He medically retired from the Delaware National Guard’s 153rd MP Company in August 21, 2016. He deployed to Afghanistan January to September 2013. Upon returning from deployment he was sent to the Wounded Transition Battalion (WTB) at Fort Belvoir, VA in October 2013 for neck, back, shoulder, skin and stomach issues. The time frame for service members to spend at the WTB is approximately 12 months; my husband was there for 3 years. When my husband arrived, there were around 300 service members there. Every service member is assigned a nurse case manager who oversees the scheduling of appointments and does weekly check-ins with them. The nurse case manager’s job is to support and facilitate the care of service members; however, often they are misleading and at times lying to get information which is used by the command against the service members. The WTB does not promote an atmosphere of healing but rather one of harassment and punishment, where they provide the bare minimum of care, distribute medications and focus on the symptoms rather than diagnose and treat the actual issues. The WTB along with Fort Belvoir Community Hospital has failed my husband along with countless other service members. Our service members and families sacrifice so much for our country and it is a shame to see how they get treated when they return from combat broken physically and mentally.
My husband and I lived through a nightmare for the past 3 years, he was fortunate enough to survive 2 deployments only to be permanently disabled by a military doctor here in the states. Do you know what it’s like to watch helplessly someone you love whose served their country go from injured to permanently damaged and not to be able to hold any one accountable? My husband came to the WTB with 2 careers, 21 years with the Postal Service and 18 years of military service, he left the WTB unable to return to either career. Below are the events that forever changed our lives.
Pensacola, Florida resident Samira Watkins’ body was discovered stuffed inside a duffel bag floating along the west bank of the Bayou Grande on November 3, 2009. Samira, 25, was 2-months’-pregnant and the mother of one child; she was reported missing by her family on October 29, 2009. After an investigation, Navy sailor Zachary Littleton, 26, was arrested for homicide at the Pensacola Naval Air Station on November 23, 2009 and held without bond. A search of Zachary Littleton’s computer showed that he planned Samira Watkins’ murder.
Prosecutors allege Littleton could no longer juggle his affairs with other women: Samira was pregnant with his child and would not have an abortion; his wife, who was also in the Navy, was about to move to Pensacola to live with him; and, if the Navy found out about Samira’s pregnancy, it could end his military career. Adultery is a crime in the military and punishable by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In June 2011, Zachary Littleton was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Littleton’s attorney said the evidence in the case was circumstantial and maintained his innocence.
According to prosecutors, the crime happened like this:
After breaking it off with Samira Watkins, Zachary Littleton made several phone calls to Samira.
He lured her to his home under the guise of working things out and discussing the pregnancy.
When she arrived, he strangled her until she was unconscious.
He put tape on her mouth and then stuffed her inside of duffel bag.
After that, he drove to the Bayou Grande and dumped her body from the bridge.
He later dumped her car in another area, before calling a taxi to pick him up at the Waffle House.
Sergeant Brent Burke earned his stripes at Fort Campbell, Kentucky — home base for his division, the legendary 101st Airborne. Once under the command of former General David Petraeus, the soldiers of the 101st have seen more action than most soldiers in the U.S. Army. It is also where Sgt. Burke will learn if he will continue to serve in the Army, or if he will serve out his life in prison, because military prosecutors in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, known as JAG, will court martial Sgt. Brent Burke for double homicide.
“I would say that the tough part of any case like this is the fact that it was four years old … and it was mostly circumstantial evidence and when you put all that together it certainly makes for a difficult case,” JAG prosecutor Lt. Col Matthew Calarco told “48 Hours” correspondent Richard Schlesinger. Lieutenant Colonel Matt Calarco’s mission, after four civilian trials failed to get a verdict, is to finally prove Sgt. Burke shot and killed his wife, Tracy, and her ex-husband’s mother, Karen Comer, on Sept. 11, 2007.