Back from Iraq with Plenty of Problems

Paul Miles returned from Iraq needing help with the death in his head. He got prison.

Adding to the complication of sealed court records, the U.S. Attorney's Office and county officials denied the Press personal access to Miles, who has been waiting in a series of East Texas jails until his transfer to federal prison in Missouri.

When the Press attempted to interview Miles in Lufkin's Angelina County Jail, sheriff's deputies said that, because he was a federal inmate, interviews would have to be cleared through the U.S. Marshal's Office in Beaumont. That office, in turn, said no interviews could be conducted without written permission from the prosecutor and the judge who handled the case. The next day, the planets realigned, and the U.S. Marshal's Office said it was up to the Angelina County sheriff after all. Unfortunately, Sheriff Kent Henson doesn't like anyone interviewing his inmates.

It might have to do with complaints about Miles's medical treatment. According to a letter Volberding sent various officials, "although the jail protocols require monthly blood testing of inmates like Miles on certain types of medication, the jail did not do so from December 2006 to August 2007."

Miles blogged that Iraqi children were the only signs of "innocence" he saw during his tour.
Photos Courtesy Curtis Miles
Miles blogged that Iraqi children were the only signs of "innocence" he saw during his tour.
Miles and his sister went on a Christian mission to Moldova in 2006.
Photos Courtesy Curtis Miles
Miles and his sister went on a Christian mission to Moldova in 2006.

And according to Volberding, the jail didn't provide results of the August 2007 test until two months later, at which time Miles saw that the levels of one medication were "outside the recommended range." Another test was done in October. Miles is still waiting for the results.

In June, Dr. Seal (who originally diagnosed Miles) wrote the federal magistrate in Miles's case, stating, "It is not appropriate for only these professionals to be treating Mr. Miles, as he needs immediate physician evaluation for his mental ­instability."

Prior to Angelina County Jail, Miles was held in Nacogdoches, which had the 30-day supplies of the meds prescribed by Seal. But the drugs are expensive, and when they were gone, nurses told Miles they couldn't afford to buy another round. Miles's parents called Dr. Seal, who reluctantly prescribed lithium and Haldol — drugs from an earlier generation of ­antipsychotics.

According to Volberding, Miles suffered from side effects on the meds — tremors, weakness, depression. Miles's parents told Seal, who called the jail and asked to speak to the doctor. But Nacogdoches County Jail contracts with an osteopathic doctor who works in Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital's emergency room, making him a tough guy to pin down. Seal never heard from him.

Jailers in Liberty County, according to Volberding, substituted one drug and added a third. From jail to jail, Miles never knew what pills he'd be popping. Volberding sought help from the U.S. Marshal's office, saying Miles's parents would gladly pay for the right meds, but without a request from the Marshal's office, jailers would keep him on whatever meds were handy. Didn't make a difference.

"The level of indifference by all levels of government," Volberding wrote, "is astonishing."

Calling collect from Liberty County Jail, Miles says he didn't sleep well the night before.

He says another inmate was asking him questions about Iraq, like could Miles have killed a teenage boy if he had to? It kept him up all night, walking circles in his cell.

He speaks slowly, in a monotone. The same flat delivery whether he's talking about Jesus or jail.

"I plan on becoming a missionary and working in Eastern Europe and actually using this for the good of mankind," he says. At least this whole mess brought him close to Jesus. Looking back on it, setting off pipe bombs was just a cheap thrill. A crude attempt to get the adrenaline rush he had in Iraq. Federal authorities shouldn't have even gotten involved, he says, but once Crazy Carl started telling stories about Miles wanting to kill kids, the feds had to come down hard.

"That made the media and the [news] got big, and I'm the big bad guy in Nacogdoches now, so now the feds have to come after me to express their power," he says.

He says he's a lot more mellow now, but he also believes another attack on American soil is inevitable. If he weren't a felon, he could stockpile weapons, but not even that would make him feel safe.

"There's a million ways to attack anything and anywhere," he says. "And there's a whole bunch of people that have nothing to do but think about it, and they think they'll be rewarded for it if they do."

The strange thing is, Miles isn't convinced he has bipolar disorder. Never had outrageous thoughts before Iraq, and there's no family history. He thinks it's PTSD. Maybe the Army should have picked up something from his post-deployment health assessment. But after he filled it out, he never heard back. And he had a life to get back to. Had to go to school. Didn't have the time to go to a hospital and fill out more paperwork to find out if he had a problem.

When he handed in his health assessment, he says, it was just a formality. The Army going through the motions.

"Just 'thank you for turning in your form,'" he says. "'Go away, now.'"

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