Sunday, March 05, 2006

Abusive Drill Sergeant Removed at Fort Sill

The Drill Sergeant whose abusive actions included assault on an injured soldier in the Fort Sill Physical Training and Rehabilitation program ( see here) has been removed from supervision of their environment. This sergeant is still in residence in the general area, but is no longer in charge of the injured soldiers. He is wearing a beret now, and not a Drill Sergeant’s hat.

The Senior Drill Sergeant whom he was replacing (whose time in PTRP was nearly up) is once again in charge until a replacement takes over. He’s a stern, sometimes harsh individual, who is thought to be fair, and generally respected by those in the PTRP.

Make no mistake about it; a few blog entries did not make this positive change occur. Those of you who have commented about me ruining careers give me far more credit than is correct. Documentation and involvement at multiple levels of the Army system were responsible for the changes. As a soldier who has served for some years in the Army told me, those who were involved in the abuses well knew they were violating regulations. Yet the most important factor during this time was the courage the injured PTRP-ers exhibited when finally given an opportunity to speak up for themselves and their fellow injured soldiers in an objective environment.

A liaison from the Medical Center has been assigned to the PTRP to handle issues with medical care and medical profiles. The mental health group is also reviewing the state of soldiers in the PTRP. Punishing physical tasks as previously related (see here) have been suspended at the time of this posting. Weekend on-post passes have been restored to PTRP-ers, unless there is a legitimate reason to revoke them.

In addition, the 180-day regulation (i.e., a soldier’s stay in PTRP is not supposed to exceed 180 days) is expected to be adhered to in the future. If that occurs, then the PTRP will not be utilized to warehouse injured soldiers. The housing situation remains an issue, with injured soldiers in the PTRP now occupying crowded bunk space in the same room with new recruits (their situation is called PCU) requiring further conditioning before proceeding on to Basic Training. Other issues are under ongoing consideration and/or investigation.

During the worst of this situation, I received a letter from a soldier who had been in the PTRP for an extended stay. I have his permission to use that letter as I see fit. In my own consideration for his personal situation and anything that may be part of ongoing investigation, I’m only excerpting it here. His was not the only communication I received. But it best narrates how some of the 39-50 injured soldiers were struggling within themselves each day:

“...I wanted to serve the United States by being a member of the armed forces. I wanted to do nothing more than to fight for and to promote freedom. All I have done here is what I have been told to do. And for that I have been robbed of my dignity, freedom, and many basic human rights many people take for [granted].
...When we bring up violations of rules and regulations they tell us they don’t care but when somebody is out of regulation or policy they will give them an article 15 take away 2-4 weeks pay and be on restriction/extra duty for 45 days. Propaganda posters are strewn all over the building we live about noncommissioned officers respecting their subordinates but none of us here have ever seen an ounce of respect, help, or the first sign of being treated like a decent human being.
...I have no idea why I do not care anymore I just want to sleep all the time.
If I was just able to do anything to mentally get away from this place I would. Just to forget who I am and what I am doing day in and day out. At one point I know I had a purpose. At one point I know I cared. I do not know when I lost it and if I will be capable of ever possessing it ever again.”

I hope that this Private, along with the other injured soldiers in the Fort Sill PTRP, will be able to put this situation behind them now. Some problems and issues have been addressed. If other previously mentioned issues are also addressed in a constructive manner, perhaps these injured soldiers can now focus on progressing in their physical rehabilitation. Perhaps they can heal instead of being further harmed. That is, after all, the stated purpose of the PTRP.

It’s sad that a significant portion of the feedback I’ve received about the situation at Fort Sill ridicules these young men who’ve committed to serve their country, and derides their families for being concerned about their welfare. Some of these young men will go on to sacrifice their lives in that service. For that alone, in my opinion, the “least” of them deserve basic respect.

In some places, such as Fort Knox and Fort Jackson, significant changes have been made in the way they operate PTRPs. They have Physical Therapists as company commanders. If the official article is to be believed, their level of understanding and operation is entirely different than Fort Sill’s. (Press Browser back button to return) Even if the official perspective is exaggerated, it certainly shows that other methods have had more success than the old model in place at Fort Sill. Perhaps now that the PTRP at Fort Sill is under more scrutiny, they will use this opportunity to move toward an operational strategy that’s both more humane and effective than their current plan.

Note: For those of you who are family members of Fort Sill PTRP occupants and have come to this blog lately, I have a letter to you with suggestions (updated today) here.

23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son is "gopher". I saw this website over the weekend, and called the company commander today. Some of the issues in this blog are legitimate and certainly have deserved attention. My understanding is that these issues are being addressed.

For any family member with concerns, your FIRST action should be to start with your soldiers chain of command, these are the people who are closest to the issues. In this instance call the company @ 580-442-4771 and ask to speak to the C.O. Captain Knowles (sp?)

1:59 PM  
Blogger Pat deV said...

Thank you for your response. I agree, the chain of command should be the first stop. However, this situation escalated and due to circumstances at the time, the Fort Sill PTRP-ers didn't find their chain of command to be responsive or accessible. I'm very glad to see that is changing! I previously posted a link to a list of suggestions specific to the situation at Fort Sill that included the Inspector General's office and the Public Affairs office. I will add your contact info for Captain Knowles to that post as well.

4:19 PM  
Blogger PTRP43ag said...

It's just a small pin prick in the world of PTRP.

I don't have room here to tell you what go's on and what went on in PTRP.

You forget that Fort Sill is not the only Fort that has a PTRP program.

I now run a webpage about PTRP, please feel free to look at the guest book, you will see the Armys pont a view as well as Pvt.

www.geocities.com/PTRP43ag

11:56 PM  
Blogger PTRP43ag said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just want you to know i read about this in Counterpunch. you (Pat) are doing great work...as a mother, i can understand. What else would you do in these circumstances? know that there are others out here watching and reading...as you tell the other parents: you are not alone.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's mighty funny how your biased views of what's happening cater to your son's actions. Take time out to look at the other side of the problem...I.E., problem soldiers whom repeatedly try to jerk the system and blame others for their own irresponsible actions. And, if you are trying to fix something, don't take out comments from those who are willing to disagree with you. Trying to fix something that is wrong is NOT writing and blaming others based on hear-say. I think you honestly try to find out all sides of the story before passing judgement on soldiers who actually work 15 plus hours a day to make the army work.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Pat deV said...

It's interesting how you took advantage of the "anonymous" author option to put forward your own biased beliefs, while making accusations against me. I have not removed a single comment from this blog. Where it says "removed by author" means that the author of the comment deleted it of his/her own free will.
You seem to believe that the PTRP guys are trying to get out of something. I disagree. If you had read other posts, then you would know that my son has not committed any actions, other than to have the misfortune of being injured.
If you have looked at other posts relating to this, then you know that I have had quite a few disagreeing (as well as disagreeable)comments, as well as some who corroborate what I have documented. They are all still there.
I have been putting up my documented sources with links, if you will look at my latest entry. I will continue to document as the situtation warrants. If signed statements constitute hearsay, then I supposed you could say that all of this was hearsay. Apparently the IG's office didn't think so.
Perhaps you feel that the drill sgt should have assaulted Pvt Gopher (who, btw, is not my son), yet Army regs forbid it.
I'm so glad that you apparently know how to fix something like this, as I do not. I leave it to you, then, to fix it the "right way".

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your post clearly states that your son violated the rules set in place. Even though it was "a long time ago," rules are set in place for a reason. If one complains so much to give exception to one catergory of people, then why don't we give all inital entry soldiers the same? NO!!! Your son may have finished the "bookwork" side of his soldiering, but the fact remains that he did not pass the "SOLDIERING" side. Imagine all of the soldiers who maitain every day to get through tough things despite other things that are going on. There are thousands of men and women who make it through far worse adversity every day and still manage to make it. In my opinion, if the soldiers that are complaining about the same treatment want it... they need to either do what they need to do to make it or GO HOME!!!!

6:00 PM  
Blogger Pat deV said...

I was confused, because you posted on an entirely different blogpost for something on another post...how odd. I stand corrected, while continuing to be unsure why you have chosen to post here...so I take it you are talking about the Article 15? Well, I clearly said that neither he nor I had filed a complaint about the punishment. My own remark reflected that I thought it was interesting that all Article 15s in the PTRP are the same, regardless of the violation. You can get the same punishment for drinking a Coke out of a machine as for having tobacco products. You can get the same punishment for tobacco products as returning from leave and having a urine test positive for cocaine. You can get the same punishment for using a cellphone. And it can be confusing to those new to PTRP, because depending on where they were in AIT or graduated, privileges that they had before are suddently illegal, including offpost passes, cellphones, tobacco products (even alcohol is allowed after a certain stage of AIT). That's not me trying to make a case for anything, just making a point.
My son actually didn't fail in "soldiering". Once again (I do wish people would read everything before holding forth without all the info)...he shot expert in riflery, expert in grenades, 2nd in his AIT class, was ordered to take an alternate PT event for the run, passed it, was graduated, and along with 2 others was kept back from their 1st duty station for injuries (in my son's case, stress fractures in the ankle).
Obviously, you just want to argue...and you have nothing constructive to offer...and your advice about how to fix the problem was not genuine. You lack information on the rules and regs (or are determined to ignore them except when they are selectively used for punishment) and are full of anger and contempt that you choose to spew at me and at the Fort Sill PTRP guys. They've had plenty of that every day, I assure you.
If it was so easy to "go home", those with severe chronic or catastrophic injuries would have done so.
PFC Scarano would have chosen to go home rather than to die in the PTRP at age 21. Pvt Gopher would have gone home rather than have his new surgery-ed knees kicked out from under him. Pvt Howell would have gone home rather than to have spent 16 months now in limbo with no end in sight. Others who remain (JUST LIKE YOU) anonymous for their own reasons are in like circumstances. No one wants this treatment.
To say that because others suffer, somehow the PTRP guys suffering means nothing is not constructive to any sort of dialogue. I am sorry for the hate and anger that consumes you to the point where you have no compassion for suffering that doesn't agree with what you want to believe. Thank you for responding. This is my final entry to you.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Pat deV said...

One Last Thing -- TO ANONYMOUS:
I know where you are...sill-cache.amedd.army.mil

And I know what entries you read, and how long you were reading, etc. Now that we have all that out of the way, in closing, Anonymous at Fort Sill,
allow me to refer you back to your IET TR350-6 (Initial Entry Training Manual)& your FM 21-20 (Field Manual) to refresh you on the regulations and guidelines that go to some length to explain to you how PTRP soldiers are supposed to be treated.

I hope that someday you are not filled with so much anger and hate. It will consume you.

So sad, if not surprising, that you are located at Fort Sill...your attitude is a perfect example of the poison that pervades some parts of that base.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my brother is there now and he told me the other day if you call the chain of command about anything they jump down their throat for anything. i recieved his graduation information before i found out he got hurt and emailed his chain of command like it said to do if you wanted pictures or anything and he got on to my brother about it. reading all of these stories are making me worry more about him.

5:37 AM  
Blogger concerned mother said...

Aloha,
All the way from Hawaii. I acccidently came across your web site whil looking for information about new recruits in Ft Sill. My son is there for his basic training. I recvd some disturbing news that my son had recvd a head injury, which was inflicted by his drill sergeant. I've been told that there doing an investigation, but thats it. I've spoken to many sergeants, and still no progress. What should I do? The commander called and said "I assure you that your soldier is fine" So why is everything such a big secret? Why cant I speak to my son, without them listening in? Why did I recv. that disturbing phone call, stating that he was injured? What should I do? Pls help me, I'm at the end. ALso do they have the right to have my telephone conversations at home, work,and cell, tampered with? HELP

2:04 AM  
Blogger Pat deV said...

Concerned Mother: If your son is able, he can phone you on the payphones in privacy. I am concerned that you have not been able to speak with him. Since it sounds as if you have gone up the chain of command, and had contact from the Battery (?) Commander with no real info (such as how you can speak with your son, where he is and his condition ("Fine" is not a condition), and since this was an injury inflicted by a Drill Sergeant, my suggestion is that you contact the Inspector General's office at Fort Sill: 580/442-3224 You need to officially ask them to look into it. You can also email them at: atzri@conus.army.mil
I suggest that you send an email giving all of your son's info (Name, age, SSN, his basic training location/address given to you) as well as your experience to this point, in as much detail as possible. Give your own information including full name, a contact number where you can be reached, etc. Keep notes -- who said what -- date/time. ANYone can call the Inspector General's office. You don't have to be a soldier to do so. I don't know about now, but the Inspector General's office was of great assistance before.
Understand that you are considered a "third party" by the Army. As such, while I'm certain you can get information about your son's medical condition, he will have to authorize you being informed if there is an actual investigation. Don't let that discourage you.
Feel free to email me if I can be of further assistance at:
ptrosss(at)gmail(dot)com and please let me know the outcome. Be strong and determined.

7:30 AM  
Blogger concerned mother said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR RESPONDING. IT'S BEEN FIVE LONG DAYS AND, NO ONE HAS CONTACTED ME ABOUT THIS SO CALLED INVESTIGATION. A GOOD FRIEND OF THE FAMILY, WHO IS RETIRED FROM THE ARMY, AND DID HIS TRAINING IN FT SILL ALSO GAVE SOME ADVICE. SINCE SPEAKING WITH HIM I'VE BEEN IN CONTACT WITH OUR SENATORS, AND THEY HAVE BEEN POSTING ME DAILY ON WHAT THEY ARE DOING. I'VE CONTACTED LOCAL NEWSPAPERS AND NOW I'M RECIEVING THREATS FROM THOSE THAT WOULD'NT ASSIST ME. (" TO BACK OFF, AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M GETTING INTO") IT'S SCARY AND I FEEL ALL ALONE. BUT, I WON'T GIVE UP. AGAIN, (MAHALO) THANK YOU! I WILL KEEP YOU POSTED

11:26 PM  
Blogger Pat deV said...

If you are receiving actual threats, those need to be documented as well (name date, what was said) and reported to the Inspector General's office. The IG's office is independent of the training chain of command at Fort Sill. If the "investigation" is not coming from their office, it's internal within the chain of command (i.e., the same folks who've been stonewalling you). You can work with the IG in addition to talking with your congressional representative. It takes time for them both to do their inquiries. But I know, more than most, that time can be critical.
I can't stress to you how important it is to document everything in detail. It's important for your son's well being to do that, and not get caught up in fear and anxiety...which will keep you from being as effective as you can be under the circumstances. You are not alone, though you may feel that way. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance, ptrosss(at)gmail(dot)com and if you hear from your son.

6:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, I know that you are worried and sometimes scared about what goes on during basic training. However, you, as parents and siblings need to realize that these "soldiers" are no longer boys and girls anymore. It deeply embarassing when a mother or father call the basic training site to complain about this or that (I've seen it happen). These soldiers are not their for you to mother them or to look over them, they are there to become stronger both mentally and physically WITHOUT your interference. As parents you need to loosen the reigns and pull back and realize this isnt the boy scouts anymore where you can just call up the scout leader ITS THE REAL DEAL. Again, I agree that we are all volunteers in this army but I'm sure none of you are familiar with the term "sick call ranger", these are legitimate people who are in over there heads in joining the army and view "faking" an illness or bump to simply get out of training (again its done on average 19834576556986 times a day across Basic Training Sights). Most of them do inhabit the PTRP sights when it simply is to much for them, most likely leading to hte frustration of many of the cadre there. I cannot stress enough that Basic Training is MADE to be hard and not a walk in the park, so in essense get over it and let it go. They arent children anymore.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

To the people that are deeply concerned about there kids and loved ones in basic and AIT. Please remember that these children we have entrusted to our armed services, in this day and age, stand a very good chance of ending up in a combat situation. In a situation where thier ability to do what has been taught, to do what a "normal" civilian would think impossible will be the difference between life and death.
Basic training is a place where a child becomes a man(or woman). From there they are shipped to the Valley of Death. And if they do not perform as they were taught, they will die.
These soilders must come to believe in themselves.
I was in the military, what seemed like a million years ago. Basic for me was hard. I cryed myself to sleep every night for the first week. I was a fat lazy kid who had never been "forced" to do anything my entire life. If I had been given an option to leave, I would have, after the first day.
So I stayed, not because I wanted to, or because I liked it, but because I felt as though I was given NO option but to complete the training....
Some time after that a small portion of my unit was deployed to the Horn of Africa. On a "humanitarian mission". Suddenly the "fat lazy kid" was face to face with things nightmares are made of. I did things there, mentally and physically, that I thought were impossible. I did then without doubt, without hessitation, because I was already forced to prove to myself that I could do it. And if I had not done so, not only myself, but my team members,someone elses kids, could of died.
Your children, your loved ones, they need to go through this. They volenteered to join the service. But now that they have joined, they must be forced to complete the training. Some will hurt, some will cry, some may even die. But if they are not ground up, broken down, then rebuilt into soilders, we will all be attending funerals and asking why our children were sent into harms way without the proper training.
God Bless You All

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Al said...

Its amazing how I hear about how tough basic is when certain people regardless of their performance catch all the hell 90% of the time while the others are pushed through like cattle as if its just something they have to ride out until after AIT.

I wish new recruits would just knot up and admit that they're in it for only the money and benefits like everyone else. I emean, you cares about intentions? Seriously! If anything the good guys (at least the ones that act like it) get bullied and singled out by people of less morals and work ethic as well as a borderline pedophile lust for young, scared ignorant, female recruits while some punk criminals from a level 10juvenile detention facility somehow gets recruited and worse yet graduates and gets promoted soon after. Piss pour judgement to say the least but let me know how it goes for you all when we lose another 5000 troops in this war that we have no business being in!

BTW, If any of you money leeching, lazy, so-called patriots want to HONESTLY volunteer for something, work somewhere for free and see how long those insincere pats on the back for your free work keep you feeling heroic! It was YOUR choice to join the military but the volunteer part ends on day 1because you're getting paid! Don't tell me I volunteered, I did it the first time because I was young and dumb and wanted to be a hero but the second time it was all business and about MYSELF like it should be! And if any of you want to villanize me for putting that out there than go to hell and pay homage to your good buddy the devil!

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And we wonder why it costs so much to keep a Ready Military. The mind, the most potentially-dangerous weapon ever, is not being used.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Shane said...

And we wonder why it costs so much to keep a Ready Military. The mind, the most potentially-dangerous weapon ever, is not being used.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous OIF ll and lll said...

For fear of them retaliating right now...it is 5-26-11 and I would like to know how the f*** these drill sgts that took water away from soldiers yesterday in 90 degree weather would have felt if one of them soldiers would have died. They took their canteens from them and told them they didn't deserve them. They went from drinking 2 1/2 gallons of water a day to 8 oz. In weather that sent two to the hospital prior to this. And then after the Dr. Tells one of them that her back injury is so severe that any force, trauma or even a bad fall can paralyze you, they pull you off of profile and made you March. Wtf is going on at fort sill? When this person is finally out of there...shit is gonna blow...

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOOK...I WAS AT FORT SILL IN 1985 FOR BASIC...I WAS SET UP BY A SPECIALIST WHO THOUGHT I WAS MESSING AROUND WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND AT KP....WHAT CRAPT...THEY TOOK MY LEAVE BEFORE CHRISTMAS..THEN THEY ILLEGALLY WENT INTO SOME CHILDHOOD FILES OF MINE AND DISCHARGED ME SAYING I WAS SCHITZO...ALL IN A WEEKS TIME...THEY GAVE ME A PHYSICAL DISABILITY PRIOR TO ENTRY OF ACTIVE DUTY...FORT SILL ABUSE HAS BEEN AROUND FOR MANY YEARS...ALMOST RUINED MY FUTURE CAREER PATH...I WAS 17 WHEN I ENLISTED...THAT EXPERIENCE DESTROYED ME ....I FEEL FOR THOSE BEING MISTREATED.

2:08 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I just read this article I am medical retired from the army I served with Matt we were in ptrp together he was a very intelligent soldier and got me through some tough times I went on to my unit but was retired later due to my injuries never getting to properly heal due to the mistreatment we undergone scarano was a stand up guy who went to bat for the soldiers below him.so yeah he was a good soldier who looked out for his brothers don't let anyone tell you different

8:10 PM  

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