Jan 23, 2012 8:00 PM by Matt Stafford
A Colorado Springs woman says she's still recovering from the horrors of domestic violence she experienced last summer. However, Rebecca Granados says she feels like it was her husband's Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that led to the attack - and more specifically the medications he was taking. Now she says she wishes she could have done more to help.
Granados says what her husband did to her, nearly six months ago, came out of nowhere.
"One evening he assaulted me," says Granados.
Her husband, Alberto Granados, served 22 years in the U.S. Army and performed three tours of duty in Iraq before retiring in 2008. Now he's facing 11 charges related to the July attack Rebecca describes; including attempted murder and sexual assault. A trial date is set for February.
Rebecca says another huge shock came just days after the attack.
"Three days after he was incarcerated the medication came in, and I'm looking at it like well what's this?" says Rebecca.
It was the drugs Ambien, a sleeping aide, and Ativan, for anxiety relief; prescribed through Veteran Affairs.
V.A. experts say one or two of every ten people coming back from serving in American conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan have symptoms of P.T.S.D.
Rebecca says she knew her husband was taking sleeping pills, but not much more than that. The same P.T.S.D. that was eating away at him was keeping them apart.
"I didn't know what was going on all the time with him," says Rebecca. Now she thinks those meds may have had something to do with how her husband acted that night.
"It just didn't make any sense what he was doing to me," says Rebecca.
"Evidence doesn't support their (Ambien and Ativan) use for treatment of PTSD," explains Lt. Col. Stephen Ford, director of Pharmacy at Evans Army Hospital on Fort Carson. Col. Ford says there are several drugs with high ratings that are commonly used specifically for P.T.S.D. treatment. However, Col. Ford does say that the drugs Rebecca described are sometime prescribed to P.T.S.D. patients to treat other issues; the decision to use them is up to the individual's care provider.
"Often times people who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may have other kinds of conditions as well, for which those medications may be one of the best choices," describes Maj. Christopher Ivany, the director of behavioral health at Evans Army Community Hospital on Fort Carson.
Nearly two years ago a New York Times article brought national attention to Fort Carson; voicing complaints from soldiers and their families that they were being over medicated when seeking treatment. Maj. Ivany says since then there have been big improvements in access to behavioral health care; a bigger staff (up to 160 personnel), more access points for soldiers to seek help around post, and a new behavioral health center for the Mountain Post slated for completion this year.
"Shaping the care to fit the patient, and not expect the patient to fit the care system;" according to Maj. Ivany, that's what's been working best for them.
"We're always trying to find ways to improve," says Maj. Ivany.
Rebecca is not a pharmacist, so after seeing the drugs her husband was taking she started searching the internet. She found a story about a different domestic violence case in the area that was a lot like hers.
"It was so similar that my heart just stopped," describes Rebecca.
"That's the same exact thing that happened to me and my husband," Rebecca said; she pointed out that the soldier was even on the same medications.
Rebecca talked about it with Alberto; she says he started talking with other inmates - other veterans. Many started listing off details for Alberto; like what their crimes were and what medications they had been taking.
"I was just overwhelmed when I saw that list, and I saw the amount of multiple medications these guys were on," says Rebecca.
Charles Corry and the Equal Justice Foundation get daily booking information at El Paso County's Criminal Justice Center. He tracks things like military arrests, and the crimes people are arrested for. His numbers show that about a third of all military arrests - veteran and active duty - are domestic violence cases, but when he looks at numbers among all inmates, the percentage drops to about 12; if he takes the military cases out completely, the 12 percent drops by a third to about 8 percent.
"I don't have an absolute proof, but certainly a correlation is there (between military populations and domestic violence cases)," explains Corry. He believes P.T.S.D. plays a role in those numbers.
Rebecca is pretty confident that the medication combinations along with P.T.S.D. are what caused her husband to attack her, but she can't prove it. It leaves her wondering, what if she had paid closer attention? What if she had done her research beforehand; would she have known what to look for?
"I think we could have prevented this situation," says Rebecca. "I didn't know what was going on until it was too late."
She hopes her story will remind spouses to keep a close eye on their loved one; hopefully preventing similar situations to what she went through.