COMMENTS: Haunting

Another sad story of mental illness was filed by Bob Woodruff for ABC. This is a Monday in April so ABC again sold limited commercials and expanded its newshole to 24 minutes. Instead of using the extra time to increase its story count, ABC kept its regular daily seven assignments, but extended two of them.

The first was Woodruff's tale of Sgt James Coons. Coons was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after he became fixated on the face of a dead comrade he had seen in an Iraqi morgue. He was treated for depression in Kuwait and at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany, but was assessed as having a low risk for suicide.

Coons was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2003 as an out-patient but his parents were worried by his apathetic mood and wanted him to come home to Texas. They described asking a chaplain and a night manager to check on their son but heard nothing until a clerk finally went to his room after five days of inattention. He had hanged himself with his bed sheets. Accused of neglecting the patient, the army denied any wrongdoing yet refused to talk to Woodruff.

This bleak tale took Woodruff seven minutes to relate.


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