Sweating All the Stuff, Big and Small

Monday, February 13, 2006

Information for Family Members of Injured Soldiers in PTRP at Fort Sill

UPDATED 3/6/06
This is an Open Letter to all of you who have family members in the PTRP at Fort Sill:

I am Private Sincere’s mother. He is one of the injured privates at the Fort Sill PTRP. I wanted to provide others who are family members of PTRP soldiers at Fort Sill with information I have gathered about what to do if you are concerned for your son/husband/brother…

If I can help you in any way, or if you would like your family member's story posted without mentioning his name, please email me at ptrosss (“at” symbol) (sorry, have to write it out to prevent spam robots from getting it).

If you’re afraid, do something anyway. At least when you finally fall asleep in the wee hours of the morning, you will know that you are doing something, however small, to help your family member. I speak from experience. When I started to lose heart, I remembered that ALL of our sons/brothers/husbands had been forced to perform work that may have impacted their injuries (scraping floors, moving heavy furniture, etc.). ALL of our sons/brothers/husbands had inadequate medical supervision. Most, if not all of our sons/brothers/husbands had experienced intimidation/threats, etc., and had been called worthless, useless, fill in the blanks with various cursewords because they were injured. At least one of our sons/brothers/husbands had been the victim of assault. This is all unacceptable and illegal, even in the Army, even in a Boot Camp situation.

Remember that this is not even a Boot Camp scenario; this is a supposed rehabilitative environment. And certainly, if your son/brother/husband has been assaulted for any reason, you should already be doing something! Remember that you are not alone. Discuss this situation openly with family and friends. You have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hide. The more attention this situation gets, the more likely positive change will occur. (NOTE 3/6/06: This in fact is happening -- enough attention was drawn to the situation that it could not be ignored or dismissed -- PD)Now let’s get into some of the “something you can do”:

I have filed a complaint with my congressman’s office, and written to several others. Eventually, I was contacted by a congressional caseworker, and she is reviewing my son’s individual situation. That’s not enough, in my opinion, based on what I know to be true of the situation at Fort Sill. But it’s a start, and if all of us with concerns (and we ALL should have concerns) about our family member write to our congressional representatives (and keep writing if you don’t get a response), then it will become obvious that there’s a problem. (NOTE 3/6/06: I don't know how many of you did this, but I do know that it helped in my son's medical situation. I will add that this was done after other methods failed.--PD)

--If you decide to write to your congressional representative, and you don’t know who that is, find out here:
United States House of Representatives

Document as much as you can about your family member and the circumstances of the others in PTRP. Explain to them that your son can’t fill out a form, and detail as much much as you can. Be clear. If you don’t hear from them within a few days, follow up that communication with another one. Your congressional representative has caseworkers whose sole job is to investigate.

Official Channels – What I Have Done:

My particular concerns started out in August of 2005, after my son couldn’t get his combat boots laced over his feet and was in extreme pain. I wrote to the training liaison officer at Fort Sill. I was contacted in return, and while my son endured some verbal harassment for my intervention, it at least got him some ice and ibuprofen. X-rays were negative, but his condition persisted. A bone scan was scheduled, but my son was informed that if he went that day, he would automatically fail and be recycled (repeating Boot Camp). Another bone scan was scheduled, and that time the Drill Sergeants didn’t even bother to inform him of it (in Boot Camp, the Drill Sgts are notified, and they notify your family member of their appointments).

My son received temporary profiles that prohibited running, and was ordered to take an alternate walking event for the final PT test, instead of running. This was in November. All other components of the test were performed and passed, as was the alternative event. He went from his two mile walking test to the medical center where a bone scan was performed. He was informed that he had passed and would graduate, which he did.

Then, as I have documented on my blog here (See Abuse is Rampant at Fort Sill, he was “ungraduated” and the bureaucratic nightmare began. That was the least of the problems, as it turns out, with his stay in the Fort Sill PTRP.

It may be hard to think about, but document EVERYTHING from your family member's conversations. Get names, dates, times, places, etc. Remember that your son/husband/brother's oral record may be all you have to go on and give out, since they aren’t allowed to make statements to the press, etc., and you are their only hope for help at this time.

(NOTE 3/6/06: It has been pointed out to me that CO Captain Nuels is currently willing to discuss their family member's situation 580-442-4771. This should be your first stop to ask for assistance as long as you have no reason to think otherwise. -- PD)

Due to my son having officially graduated, when he was “ungraduated”and his medical care in question, I contacted the IG’s office (Inspector General) at Fort Sill. ANYONE can contact the IG. If you haven’t done so, I recommend you do it NOW.
Here is their contact information:

Phone: (580)442-3224

(NOTE: This step was vital to the changes that occurred in the Fort Sill PTRP--PD) You will be told that you are a 3rd party, and thus not necessarily entitled to know what happens, but it’s definitely worth the effort. I was contacted the first time I wrote to them, and have recently again contacted that office to update them on the situation of the entire PTRP. (UPDATE) The IG's office welcomes your input if you are a PTRP family member or a PTRP soldier.

Be prepared for a lot of buck passing, regardless of whom you write. You’re going to be discouraged, hear a lot of double talk, and encounter a lot of red tape. It will be suggested that you don’t understand the situation, that you aren’t getting the whole story, that because a detail of a story has changed with the passing of time, it means your entire complaint is invalid. Endure this and persevere. The fact is that you can’t get on your white horse and rescue your family member. If it could be done, I would already have a white horse saddled in the backyard. Heck, I would already have ridden out and done the rescue.

Contact the Public Affairs Office at Fort Sill.

Someone steered me in this direction when I erred about whom to contact. Tell them what your family member has been through, and what the other injured soldiers have been through as well as far as you know. If as one parent I heard from stated, her son feared for his life at one point, you should say that. TELL THE TRUTH. In theory, your complaint should reach the actual base commander. I’m still waiting to see if this actually happens, but don’t let that stop you from writing as well.
(NOTE: While I was contacted by the IG's office, no one else in the chain of command bothered to contact me. The IG's office was the most responsive -- PD). If the situation remains unaddressed, the next step up is at the Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth, KS in the person of Lt Gen Petraeus. If that fails, then you go up to Gen. Wallace, who is the TRADOC commander and Lt Gen Petraeus’ boss. I’m waiting. My patience is thin, but I’m waiting. (NOTE 3/6/06: There was some significant positive involvement at a TRADOC command level -- I doubt he'd appreciate being named here -- PD)

Don’t expect ANYONE to be glad to hear from you. If someone is glad to hear from you, that person is likely going to try to doubletalk you out of pursuing the issues.

This is obviously an ongoing process. I will add to this document as I learn more. If only one or two of us follow up on this, we can be ignored and our sons can be silenced. If we -- as the families of these fine young men who volunteered to serve their country and are now being treated like trash – stand together in our resolve to see this situation remedied, it’s possible that not only our family members will be safer, but also those to follow in the future.

IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR FAMILY MEMBER HAS A LEGITIMATE COMPLAINT OR ISSUE THAT IS NOT BEING ADDRESSED: Please don’t give up, and please don’t put it off. Write today. Make phone calls. Think of anyone you know who might help these injured soldiers who are members of your family and mine, and contact them as well as those I’ve suggested above.

Return to We Are All Volunteers in This Army


  • At 8:33 PM, Blogger Dragon11delta said…

    The problem with people who enlist in the military today think military life is a cake walk. I spent two years as a Drill Sergeant and I can tell you it was my job to teach new recuits to shoot, move and communicate; I taught them to be disciplined in a manner consistent with Army Standards.

    Problems always occurred when the roop wrote home and complained to their mommy's and daddy's that life is too hard in the Army. The best one was when new recruit wrote his mom and told her the Army was teaching him to kill using weapons and bayonets. Well, this mother sent a letter to her congressman and the next thing I know bayonet training was taken out of basic training. I won't even mention hand to hand combat was suspended for two months.

    I don't think the American public today can comprehend what it takes to condition a civilian and turn him or her into a soldier.

    Sure, abuse does occurr from time to time from only a few people but I'm sick and tired of discussion boards or blogs or whatever format people wish to use to express there dislike with things and especially when it comes to our military.

    Take control of these personal issues offline and bring focus to more things like the troops who are dying overseas.

  • At 12:11 AM, Blogger Pat deV said…

    Thank you for your response. I see you were an 11Delta. My son in the PTRP graduated training to be a 13-Delta, made expert in rifles and grenades, and was 2nd in his AIT class. Though you may think that I, as a member of the American public, am stupid...I'm not. I come from a family where my father was a Marine, 2 uncles were in the Navy (one retired as a Chief Petty Officer) and another was in the Coast Guard. My ex-husband is a VietNam vet and my eldest son (Army)just returned home from his tour in Iraq. My now PTRP son was not expecting a cakewalk. I assure you that if I (or other Fort Sill PTRP families) had had any success at all in "control of these personal issues offline", you would never have seen this post or the posts on the Abuse at Fort Sill's PTRP. Perhaps you believe that abuse (which includes kicking a soldier's legs out from under him right after knee surgery and such) is necessary to "shape up" recruits who had the misfortune to become significantly and provably injured during training. If so, then I hope you are retired now. We don't need any more people like you making injuries that might heal into chronic or lifelong disabilities. I'm sure you'll be pleased to know, however, that both bayonet and hand to hand combat were a part of my son's basic training. And one of the still great things about this country is that since I'm not in the military, I can bring situations like this abuse to light in a way that would otherwise not be possible. If you were a fair (though tough) Drill Sgt, then I'd think you'd be distressed about others who make the rest of you look bad. Many other people are working around the clock to bring focus to the troops dying overseas, and I have expresses my opinions on this war elsewhere. Discipline is not abuse. Thank you again for your remarks.

  • At 11:23 AM, Blogger Dragon11delta said…

    I'm not a 11Delta...that was my radio call-sign. I'm all Infantry...straight-legged and Mechanized. I never condoned the use of the use physical abuse on trainees. I will say the 99.9% of the trainees who wanted out of the army came up with ever excuse imaginable to including hurting themselves. I've seen my fair share of abuse and then some and I've seen some civilians come into the militray thinking they could run things like they did on the streets.

    Amazing how a young person volunteers for military service and then all of a sudden wants and easy way out when the going gets too rough..

    Politics and the press have become in intricate part of our daily lives to include combat and training of military recruits. I personally believe that the press and and politics need to stay out of the military.

  • At 8:57 PM, Blogger Carol Y. said…

    To son wanted nothing more than to serve his country...not to be injured during basic training then subjected to inhumane treatment at the hands of overzealous DS in PTRP Ft. Sill. My son was in the first group of injured soldiers at 85th PTRP. We didn't learn of the abuse he suffered until he was out months later when he broke down and talked about it..all he kept saying was "this isn't the way the military is supposed to be!" Both my husband and I are military father a retired LTC and my husbands father a retired Col.; with numerous other family members in various branches of service. WE KNOW MILITARY PROTOCOL. WE UNDERSTAND TRAINING....none of what happend to our son was "normal". His injuries never healed BECAUSE OF PTRP...the very place he was sent to HEAL. When asked if he could talk to the IG he was denied. Prior to being injured he was at the top of his class..a leader...a soldier. He was a strapping 200 lb hockey goalie who feared nothing...after only 6 months in Ft. Sill PTRP,he was reduced to a demoralized, suicidal, depressed young man - HE WAS ONE OF MANY!! It has been a long journey since he was medically discharged...thank goodness he has a family to support him and get him the help he needs.

    I, too, found it hard to believe that this type of abuse would exist, that a few deranged DS could destroy an individual and the chain of command would look the other way. BUT IT DOES EXIST and people are STILL denying it. Perhaps you should talk to a few of these soldiers...and they were soldiers...face to face.

    Many have tried to bring this to the attention of anyone who will listen, but unfortunately no one wants to tackle the government. I contacted my congressman well over a year ago with numerous follow-up emails...but they haven't even responded. How sad. They don't want to get involved. Meanwhile many other injured soldiers are being abused because they are injured and subsequently end up being discharged with permanent disabilities then have to face more abuse trying to seek help from the VA.

  • At 7:39 AM, Blogger PVTparent said…

    Your blog was very informative, yet disturbing. It is dedicated people like you that help bring about change. There is no reason a person should be treated so inhumane! My daughter is currently in boot camp (Army) and I pray she does not experience an episode as this. Concerned family out of Florida!

  • At 1:40 AM, Blogger faith said…

    My husbent is in a boot camp and he too got heart. When i found out about it, i called his Drill Srg. I haven heard anything about his trouma sence.How can i find somthing out?Please help

  • At 10:15 AM, Blogger spktruth said…

    Neighbor son has been severely wounded in Afganistan. Last week a county cop came to deliver the bad news???? They stated he had been taken to Germany, had a crushed spine, was on a respirator and had head/face injuries. The family wanted to go to Germany, but the Army (Screaming Eagles) have been stalling them. The family were told there was no reason to go to Germany as the son would be sent to Walter Reed this weekend. Family made arrangements to go to DC, and were then told, "oh he is still in Germany"??? They have not been permitted to speak to a doctor an do not believe what they are been told. When does a county cop deliver such information and not the military? Have any of you had such an experience and what can this desperate family do. They certainly cant afford to buy a ticket to Germany.

  • At 5:07 PM, Blogger Pat deV said…

    To spktruth: You will find these two links useful to you and your neighbors.

    Choose the Serving Military Families link under Getting Assistance and then choose the Financial Assistance link on the left. I strongly advise your neighbors to get the Red Cross involved at this point as they are used to negotiating all the many rules and regulations, etc in the military services. Please let us know how it goes.


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