Monday, September 26, 2011

My Story of Military Abuse Part 3: Conclusion

After I got back from my surgery and leave, things did change.  I had been working in my battalion personnel office and living in the Bachelors Enlisted Quarters prior to my surgery, but when I got back I was given an ultimatum that changed my life.  My Platoon Drill Sargent, a man that I trusted, approached me and told me that we needed to talk in a private area.  When we got to an empty room, he told me that I had two options:  to go back into full training or they would put me in for a dishonorable discharge and I would receive no benefits for my surgically repaired hip.  He told me that they wouldn't force me to do anything that would hurt me when I got back into training, and that I would not have to repeat any training I had already completed.  Because I wanted to make the Army a 20 year career, I chose to go back into training.

Their promise to not harm me went out the window as soon as I got back into training.  They forced me to do training that I had already done before, and there was nothing I could do about it.  There is one day that is burned into my memory and still haunts me to this day.  My company was doing combat medical training, which I had already done, and we had to run 1.5 miles uphill to the training site.  I thought I was going to get a ride up there since I could not run only one month after my second hip surgery.  They told me that I had to run, and the whole way up there I could feel my hip tearing and it was the worst pain I have ever been in. 

Once we got up to the training site, I thought that I was going to be excused from the actual training since I had already done it and since it was very physically intensive.  Again, they forced me to do the training.  We were learning how to do a fireman's carry (pictured above), and other evacuation techniques including dragging somebody while low-crawling.  I was paired up with the heaviest person in my platoon and forced to do all of the evacuation techniques while suffering through the pain in my hip.  At one point, when I was in too much pain to go on I collapsed and told my drill sergeant that I couldn't do it anymore, and that they cannot force me to because of my doctor's orders.  He yelled and screamed at me and told me that I had to finish the training or I would get that dishonorable discharge.  I mustered up the energy and guts to finish, and from that day on my hip has been in extreme pain.

To this point, I have had four hip surgeries and still am in a great deal of pain.  I suffer from PTSD and have high anxiety when in certain situations.  I wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat after having a nightmare of what happened to me.  I have written to my congressmen and senators because of the illegal actions taken by my chain of command, and nothing has been done.  I have been told by many lawyers that I cannot win a lawsuit against the Army for the abuse because the contract that I signed when enlisting bars me from suing the Army for anything.  I applied to the VA for disability  17 months ago and they have still not made a full decision.  Basically, I have to live with what happened and never get any closure or the satisfaction of knowing that the people that did this to me will be punished.

If you are reading this and you know anybody that is thinking about enlisting in the military, show them this story and tell them that what happened to me is a possibility.  I love our country and believe in serving to protect it, but my country should look out for me too!

1 comment:

  1. I don't know what to say Steve. After reading your story, I feel like my problems are nothing. The VA is not a nice place to work with. A Veteran can NOT get any answers to their questions regarding Compensation or, in my case, DIC. It is just a standard phrase that we all hear and there is no excuse for it. A Veteran and/or family member should be able to speak to the person handling their claim as to find out more specifics and time frames. As it is, we only are allowed to talk to representatives (I call them receptionists), who don't know anything except their totally memorized statements. I call in every week to see if there is any light at the end of this dark tunnel, and every week get a different person but verbatim the same statement. It reminds me of when I used to be a long distance operator for the phone company...we had to say things exact...even had cue cards in case we forgot. We weren't allowed to be human to people and actually converse with them...well the VA followed their example...only trouble is...that was back in the 60's. Things have changed. Life has changed. The VA needs to get it together and do right by the Veterans and their families.
    My heart goes out to you. I can see this happening just the way you told it. My Grandson is in the Army right now, and is experiencing similar things. My husband was in the Navy in 1958 til late 60's and he also experienced a similar episode, however, not nearly as bad as yours.
    I will keep you in my prayers.