Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Injured Soldier PFC Mathew Scarano Dies in Fort Sill's PTRP

TO THE COMMAND AT FORT SILL:

I would like for you all to know that my son (and you know who he is...) is NOT responsible for releasing information about PFC Scarano after being told not to discuss it. In fact, you started giving him a hard time BEFORE I posted anything to this blog (I know exactly who looks at it and when). Now I wonder how and why that happened? Just so you know, I was not the only person contacted about PFC Scarano's death. Within two hours of my knowledge of this death on Sunday morning, I received emails from non-military people who asked me if I knew about it! Once again I am being credited with far more power than I possess. I am not the single pipeline to the outside world from Fort Sill, though sometimes I have felt that way.

I don't know exactly why it is so important to you that one of PFC Mathew Scarano's last written documents be kept quiet, but I do know from our correspondence that he would want his death to mean something in the context of what he suffered, and his fellow soldiers' suffering. You can rail at my son about disrespect for the dead, and blame him for your problems...instead of looking in the mirror at the real culprits.

TO MY SON AND THE FORT SILL PTRP-ers
Son, I want to apologize to you from the bottom of my heart if my re-publishing this upsets you and the others in the PTRP, or causes any of you to be further harassed for my actions. I know that Mathew Scarano was your friend and a peer. He had asked me to publish the first document two weeks ago, and I didn't do it. I will regret that for the rest of my life. There are things I have recently learned about the struggle for power and the subsequent rot that has set in at Fort Sill that make me sick at heart. And I toss and turn at night wondering what will become of you and the forty or so other young men in the PTRP. The light of truth never dishonors the honorable. And it is in that spirit that I republish my original post below, just as it was published late last evening.

Following that, I have also published Pvt. Howell's account. I'm sorry Pvt. Howell -- you wrote to me first and gave me permission to publish. I honor your courage. I had excerpted your words in an earlier entry, but am now adding your entire document for the record. You are all grown young men, and I will take you at your word when you tell me that you know what you are doing. I'm no longer going to second guess you and try to protect you from your decisions.
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Image hosting by TinyPic How Many More Will Have to Die Before It Stops?

In Memory of PFC Mathew Scarano
-by Patricia deVarennes

PFC Mathew Scarano died Saturday night/Sunday morning in his bunk between the hours of 10PM and 6AM, at the age of 21. Mathew had been an occupant of Fort Sill's PTRP (Physical Training and Rehabilitation Program) for a year, against regulations (which call for a max stay of 6 months). Mathew Scarano was one of those I blogged about as having been heavily drugged. (See Abuse is Rampant) He was also one of those I referred to when I posted about injured soldiers on sleep meds being rousted in the middle of the night for another Drill Sergeant's entertainment. He was concerned that I referred to him drooling, when that was actually someone else ("I don't drool"). He was bright and articulate. I met PFC Mathew Scarano last weekend at Fort Sill when I visited my son. He walked up and shook my hand and thanked me for trying to help the PTRP occupants. He had already written to me a few times...and this past week he wrote to me again.

I'd been "sitting" on his documentation (that he gave me full permission to publish) because he was part of the now ongoing investigation of the PTRP. I didn't want him to get into trouble...and intended to post his information stripped of his name. He was working on another document to give to his commander and asked for my feedback. He'd been studying psychology on his own to try to understand what had happened to him and his fellow injured soldiers, still in training status (IET) regardless of their length of service, over this past year. He wanted to do something constructive...and now he's gone. I guess I don't have to worry about him getting into trouble any more.

Mathew told his fellow soldiers in the PTRP that his doctor had just significantly increased his pain medication for his shoulder injury. He was on a narcotic called Fentanyl which is described as having "a potency of about 80 times that of morphine". In addition, warnings say, "Symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include slow breathing, seizures, dizziness, weakness, loss of consciousness or coma, confusion, tiredness, cold and clammy skin, and small pupils." His friends and peers in the PTRP noticed that Mathew looked pale. He went to bed, and one of the guys noticed that Mathew was sleeping on his injured shoulder. He turned Mathew over so that he wouldn't wake up in even more pain. At that time, he was alive. When everyone awakened on Sunday morning, Mathew Scarano did not move. One of his fellow soldiers tried to awaken him, only to discover that he was dead.

In light of this latest event in the lives of these injured and abused young soldiers, I am even more concerned. I'm sure the Medical Center will have a perfectly plausible explanation as to the cause of Mathew Scarano's untimely demise. I wouldn't be surprised if every effort is made to divert attention and place the blame anywhere except where it belongs (damage control, right?). I hope I am incorrect in my thoughts. Yet, Mathew Scarano was in the care of the Drill Sergeants and the so-called physicians at Fort Sill for a year. This is verifiable! Any medical problem he may have had is known to Fort Sill. Who will take responsibility for this fine young man's death?

And now, who will take responsibility for those still living to prevent this from happening again?

There is quite a flurry of activity at the Fort Sill PTRP. There has been a virtual parade of personnel through there. Apparently the Mental Health people don't understand why, when they ask the injured peers of Mathew Scarano how they feel about his death, the guys are overwhelmingly angry. Aside from the fact that anger is an entirely normal and expected part of grieving (didn't anyone tell them that in school?), the PTRP guys say they think it will happen again. This is not an unreasonable concern under the circumstances.

Mathew Scarano was not suicidal. I leave you now to read his own story in his own words, just as I received it. It's the best tribute I can think of:

From: mathew.scarano@us.army.mil Mailed-By: us.army.mil
To: ptrosss@gmail.com
Date: Mar 7, 2006 2:01 PM
Subject: Casualties of a broken system
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First off, I want to thank you for becoming our champion when no one else would. Thanks almost exclusively to you blowing the whistle when it came to the status quo in PTRP, things may indeed be changing for the better, some permanent institutional practices regarding PTRP are starting to take form. I was one of two individuals who spoke privately with the Investigator-General.

My name is Mathew Scarano, PFC. I turned 21 last month. One of your first articles about PTRP mentioned me briefly when it came to very heavily medicated individuals being sometimes unable to make it to final formation. (I still try.)

I'm also the longest-serving member of PTRP, by a margin of nearly a month. Some of the seniors among us jokingly refer to each other by our rank in terms of seniority. (3 being third-longest, 2 second-longest), etc. I am number one. As of 1 MAR I have been in PTRP for exactly one year, and Fort Sill even longer. Mind you that I mean consecutively - no leave whatsoever outside of the two-week "Christmas exodus". Perhaps that is my fault; I should have been more vocal about that. It just seems that there is rarely an opportune time, considering that sometimes the few who went on leave, either convalescent or personal leave, often either didn't come back within the period of time they were allowed or didn't come back at all and that I would be perceived as being a flight risk.

Needless to say, it has been extremely emotionally and physically taxing on me. I liken being here to being incarcerated, and it often helped during the bleaker points in PTRP history to think of it as such: I'm far from being any kind of expert on the subject, but perhaps it was a psychological self-defense mechanism to try to perceive what was going on as being punitive in nature.

When I first entered PTRP on 1 MAR 2005, there was no FTU or PCU; the Bravo Battery building was dedicated entirely to PTRP. The only other individual in PTRP who came in the following month agrees that conditions then were more tolerable for various reasons, but mainly I believe it is largely because we could at least tolerate one another. The nature of the people made it more interesting and the bold but often reckless escapades of some of the MEB-bound soldiers (housed in PTRP at that time) kept us on our toes. We had priority in the mess hall over Alpha Battery, which consists of newly-arrived in-processing soldiers, and therefore didn't have to wait in line behind hundreds of people. (I am unsure why this changed.)

I could go on about the differences between the past and present but I digress.

My injury is degenerative and getting worse.

I was lied to about surgery, as were many others, and it was brought to the attention of the Investigator-General that the medical community had been telling us that we face courts-martial or severe forms of non-judicial punishment if we declined the surgery suggested to us by the doctors here at Fort Sill. This has since been demonstrated to be a bald-faced lie.

I was told that I'd receive arthroscopic shoulder surgery initially, which had little chance of success, and when that failed I would receive a full shoulder replacement, after which my left shoulder would be essentially disabled for the rest of my life.

Just a little rudimentary research into the subject revealed that there are countless other, infinitely more promising options available to me in the civilian world, which I choose to explore, instead of being a guinea pig to a medical system I have no faith in, whatsoever. This is the same medical system which has botched surgeries and performed procedures without the patient's knowledge. I guess their rationale is that up until recently, the patients, in our case, were under the impression that we had virtually no input in the matter, anyway.

I've recently been told, by our case worker, that I'm getting an MEB but as of now my consultation is pending, I've heard no further word yet but am hopeful that as a result of the controversy caused by the attention garnered by your blog, I'll be out of here soon. I am a casualty of a broken system; I fell through the cracks of the bureaucracy that is the system which all of us must go through, as is every other one of us who have been here.

I am a living symbol of the failure of the system and after having been ignored for so long, despite trying to raise as much attention as I could, I might finally be able to get on with my adult life after spending over a third of it in PTRP, deprived of everything from being able to be with my family, to fundamental physical needs such as sleep and recuperation from my injury, to the basic human freedoms and creature comforts which I will never again take for granted.

As deep as my hatred is for the institution that is PTRP, I have learned a lot about both myself and human nature during my tenure here. It has given me time to study certain subjects, time which I lacked on the outside, and get around to literature that I'd always wanted to read. Such pursuits are my only real escape from my dismal little reality, other than my medication. (I realize how the latter sounds but sadly it is true. It is my only real deliverance from the chronic, piercing and sometimes debilitating pain in my shoulder.)

At any rate, I felt compelled to write to you because of what you have done for me, and more specifically, all of us. You managed to shock the system out of its complacency, at least to the extent where hopefully in the future conditions improve and individuals are not retained in PTRP over six months.

So, on behalf of a very grateful PTRP, thank you, very much.

P.S: I have no problem if you want to print this in your blog, nor do I care if it's done anonymously or not, especially since it wouldn't be very hard to deduce who I am.

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From: mathew.scarano@us.army.mil Mailed-By: us.army.mil
To: ptrosss@gmail.com
Date: Mar 14, 2006 2:13 PM
Subject: Something you may be interested in:
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I've been studying psychology on my own, and I'm trying to apply it to the underlying problems of PTRP. It isn't finished yet, as I am still unsatisfied with it, but I intend to show it to our commander when I am finished. I hope it is at least, in some small, minor way, a bit insightful. I've wanted to do this for a long time, and finally the time is right - also, at least when I get out of here one day, I can say that when asked what should happen to address the problems of the PTRP, I actually said something instead of being characteristically indifferent or cynical.

(incomplete)

As of 15 MAR 05, I have been in PTRP continuously for over one year, through the equivalent of several generations of PTRP. I believe this gives me a unique position from which to examine the underlying, root problems afflicting us all, since no one else, save the couple others who have been in PTRP nearly (within a month) as long as I have, have objectively seen the evolution of PTRP and witnessed how it affects different people, and from that, the true nature of PTRP.

Being in PTRP puts one in a state of perpetual cognitive dissonance, most particularly in those who have needlessly been here for an unreasonably long amount of time, more specifically those who have been in PTRP longer than six months in contrast to the official TRADOC position (AR 350-6, section 4-4).

Cognitive dissonance is the perception of incompatibility between two cognitions, which for the purpose of cognitive dissonance theory can be defined as any element of knowledge, attitude, emotion, belief or value, as well as a goal, plan, or an interest. In brief, the theory of cognitive dissonance holds that contradicting cognitions serve as a driving force that compels the mind to acquire or invent new thoughts or beliefs, or to modify existing beliefs, so as to minimize the amount of dissonance (conflict) between cognitions. Experiments have attempted to quantify this hypothetical drive. (Leon Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, 1957).

This is simply because of the arising of conflicting cognitions: the underlying, fundamental need for a sense of purpose and meaning, conflicting with the conscious realization of the monotony and mundane, typically pointless nature of our daily life, the utter lack of self-determination and control of one's own fate and decisions, as well as the needlessness of the extremely long durations of the stay of a few members of PTRP, and the manner in which we are frequently treated (usually by individuals outside of our battery who typically have no valid understanding of our situation) – such as being lied to about potentially life-altering medical procedures in a patronizing and passive-aggressively demeaning manner, or being treated in a belittling manner by some of the TMC staff, for a couple examples – creates a psychological condition which fosters disassociation from reality, often profound periods of depression, escapism and self-destructive behavior, and an indifference towards authority at all levels from once motivated and disciplined individuals, all of which I have personally experienced and witnessed over the past year in PTRP without any serious reprieve.

Not to mention the element of the physical pain most of us experience. Though I have no references to substantiate this, I believe that the tremendous psychological pressures we undergo weakens our means of rationalizing our pain, which contributes to the dehumanizing experience. It is my firm belief that this could lead to long-term drug dependency when there is no other means of dealing with pain if one is not cautious.

This is all undoubtedly part of the elaborate self-defense mechanism on the part of the psyche to correct this conflict, and the nature of the adverse reactions to PTRP, ranging from the extreme and destructive to more subtle, such as social withdrawal and introversion, depend largely on the conditions present at the time (the conditions in PTRP are always changing – one could even call them cyclical), the disposition of the individual detained in PTRP, social and environmental factors, and that individual’s experiences in life thus far.

The disparity between members of PTRP is also a huge factor, and in my opinion and experience, one of the most significant. The nature of the micro-society within PTRP changes with the departure of some somewhat "senior" members, and the arrival of new ones. These individuals have ranged in age from 17 to 39 and thus their maturity level and means of dealing with the stressors and aforementioned inner conflicts associated with being in PTRP, especially for an extremely long period of time , vary as much as the individuals, leading in some cases to inevitable personality conflicts and irreconcilable differences which can only be solved by keeping the conflicting individuals separated as much as possible, and interaction on a professional level limited only to what is absolutely necessary.

Attempts to remedy these conditions from training cadre have been either successful or counter-productive depending on the circumstances and the nature of the changes, either rewarding or punitive. However, in the long run these remedies - such as increased privileges including use of electronics and limited personal time - though often successful and beneficial in the short term, and undoubtedly well-intended, are ultimately only superficial “stop-gap” measures which do not address the underlying long-term conditions creating the problems currently facing PTRP, due to the “cyclical” nature of the actual PTRP platoon, and the (until recently) unchanging nature of the ineffective, overly bureaucratic medical system, in respects to PTRP. The only long-term solution for PTRP would be an expedient passage through, and out-processing from PTRP, and a far more strict adherence to the Army regulations regulating PTRP, instead of using the “six month” regulation (AR 350-6 Sectio n 4-4, subsections 1(c) and 6(d)) as a guideline, as it was (arguably) not intended as one.

Unfortunately these conditions cannot be remedied at our "local" level, by which I mean within our battery. It will require a serious overhaul of a neglectful, malfunctioning bureaucracy which has, in the past, been indifferent to our plight (at best) or outright harmful (at worst). These changes will by no means initiate themselves and if necessary, should be forced upon the system by higher authority.

Quite recently, and for the first time in my year-long subjective experience, some changes in the system are indeed in the early phases of manifesting themselves. Whether or not they will be helpful or lasting in the long run, or whether the system will revert to its previous form when no longer under outside scrutiny, can only be determined by time and ongoing evaluation.

In conclusion, the problems of PTRP are multi-faceted: personal, psychological, and physical. The often notorious morale problems associated with PTRP, and the problems which stem from it, as well as cause it, result in a highly problematic environment which creates the conditions we see today, causing individuals to undergo a sometimes radical, permanent attitude change as the result of the extremely demoralizing inner conflicts which everyone in PTRP will eventually go through to some degree, depending on the length of stay. PTRP is not the cause of the problems which are attributed to it, but rather the victim. On a personal level these conditions will worsen, directly proportional to the amount of time spent in PTRP, with one growing progressively less motivated, and more demoralized, until a critical point is reached.

It is my opinion that it is time to stop paying lip service to these many problems and either make legitimate, calculated efforts to solve the problem in the long run, for the future generations of PTRP as well as the present, or do away with PTRP altogether.


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Pvt. Howell's document now begins:

From: Clayton Howell Mailed-By: hotmail.com
To: ptrosss@gmail.com
Date: Feb 16, 2006 3:44 PM
Subject: Hello
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I am also a member of FTU/PTRP My name is PVT Clayton Howell. I know of all
the situations and am doing my best to work on it. I have compiled a list of
complaints and sent them to various sourses to include your post on blogger.
The only name I am using is my own. I intend to send you a full list of the
complaints once I have completed them for now here is my parcial list.

Any thing you wish to talk about I would be glad to share information or
listen to any information you might have. I have limited internet acess
during the day when I am at "class"(I once attended school during our lunch
time, but recently they have forced me to not go to class.
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A Compilation of Complaints from Bravo Battery 95th


Below is a compilation of complaints from soldiers at Bravo Battery 95th to include PTRP, PCU, and FTU. All complaints were collected by me and typed and edited for language, rhetoric, grammar and spelling to the best of my abilities. To the best of my abilities I believe that I did not alter the meaning of or the context of any of the complaints given to me. I will make additions, alteration, and exclusions form this list as misinterpretations, new material, complaints, or grammatical errors are brought to my attention. As of now the soldiers’ names will be left anonymous unless they ask to have their names included or it is required by a recipient of this paper.

All of the material following are valid and original complaints relayed to the author of this paper:

I enjoyed my 6 month stint in a state correctional facility before I was pardon for my crimes, much more than being here for the past year. I have been confined here for a year and have yet to commit any crime. 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 granite. Companionship and the continuing meaningful relationship with others (wife/kids/families in too many soldiers’ cases) is not possible here. We are allotted 20min to 1 hour to use the phone in the evening sometimes. Over 200 people to use 24 phones to talk to wives, children, loved ones, family, and friends. For no reason at all we are not allowed to possess cell phones, laptops, or any other kind of communication device. So a few minutes every few days is all we have to maintain relationships outside the building we live in. Death, back to prison, or death in prison would be more preferable than this. I have seen homeless men with more of a life, more purpose, and more motivation than me. I feel as if I no longer have a soul.

Duty hours are from 0400 until 1800 (4:00am until 6:00pm) with an hour for personal time. Unless our drill sergeants want to hang around and bitch at us or complain about how we do not have motivation or aren’t good enough to be in the army.

Being in formation outside in all weather conditions for 20-45 min sometimes well over an hour. Not able to wear a hat that covers our ears or gloves to cover our hands. Seeing permanent party wear scarves and thick non issue gloves, that we aren’t authorized to wear. If we wear our winter cap we are not authorized to wear our ear flaps down. If we have to wait for over 15 or 30 min in degraded weather conditions while the first sergeant and drill sergeants stand inside watching us and talking to each other; why cant they come out and be information with us or at least let us leave early.

We are sometimes punished by having our phone/personal time taken away for “mandatory entertainment.” For example:
4th of July there was a southern rock concert held in the chapel.
Super bowl Sunday we were stuck in a room to enjoy it.
The reenactment of historical baseball at Fort Sill.
Christian concerts, ceremonies, and rituals regardless of faith.
And various other activities around Lawton/OKC.
All of these events were made mandatory that we had to attend instead of calling family, writing letters, or reading books (for those who are lucky enough to have them). On most occasions we are told they are “optional” then only 2 or 3 people will volunteer to have their private time taken away. When they don’t have enough “volunteers” or they can’t find anybody who wants to come and watch the others who are left behind they make them “mandatory” for all. The main reason we are conscripted for these “entertainment events” is to make our unit, the base, or the army look good. Because nobody in their right mind would want to go to them.

On Christmas we were forced to buy a $75 ticket to get off base. The same bus ticket would cost $20 or a taxi ride would cost $50 or $25 if you found another soldier to ride with you. We asked why we had to buy a bus ticket from only this company who was on base and why we could not take a cab we were told that we aren’t being authorized to leave any other way and we would have to stay on Fort Sill over Christmas exodus if we did not by this exuberantly priced ticket.

In bravo battery there are many people who have finished basic and AIT but forced to live in a basic training style barracks and being governed by drill sergeants. We are being told that if we complain to any of our superiors or talk to our congressmen that they will “step on us like a bug” “be destroyed” or “crush our nuts.” We live in constant fear of retaliation for something we do or something somebody else does because they don’t punish just one person they take it out on everybody. Our treatment is very poor, prisoners and detainees get treated better than us. They lecture us on our personal time when we spend literally all day doing absolutely nothing. Being stuck in an over glorified closet with no windows or ventilation all day(in the battalion). Not having furniture in the room we live in other than the beds, which we aren’t allowed to sit on. Being told in an “open floor” discussion to “go fuck yourself” when we bring a valid problem or complaint to the drill sergeant.

They blatantly disrespect us constantly and they treat some privates better than others if they like football or basketball and will talk to the drill sergeants about it. Almost every private is fearful of retaliation even if we file a legitimate complaint. 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.

Letters, certified packages, and other parcels are being singed in our name and being received by others. The mail system takes only days to deliver a letter going out, but on Feb 13 soldiers were getting letters postmarked on the 12th of Dec. Packages and letters are delivered to the wrong building and they put them in a stack or throw them into a locked room and don’t actively seek out who they belong to.

Many people have been here for 6-18 months in I.E.T status for a variety of reasons. Some of us had more privileges and better treatment in AIT and basic. People coming into basic now can smoke, use smokeless tobacco and keep their cell phones.

Mass punishment is wrong and does not work over long periods of time. Many believe it only serves to demoralize. Once you have a privilege (like using the phone or leaving the barracks on the weekends for 2 hours) they take them away for no real reason. And once they have taken all of your privileges what then can they punish you with? Most people just don’t care when they take everything away. “If I am going to get punished for doing everything right just the same as the guy who got caught with cigarettes, I might as well just smoke myself. Why would I do the right thing?” Why is it that 100+ people are responsible for 1 person hiding a can of smokeless tobacco in his mattress? And if you do try to correct them nobody will listen to you, so you notify the drill sergeant and he proceeds to punish everybody including the person who was trying to help.

Some privates run around hitting people in the genitals and think it’s funny or will put their genitalia on people while they sleep. Or they will urinate or put seamen into their canteens when they are not looking or are asleep. There are many other soldiers who whiteness these acts and sit by idly. There are many other cases of sexual abuse/assault that happen among the privates here and nothing can be done. We notify the chain of command and they might yell at us because they don’t know who did it but nothing ever happens.

(Approximately Jan 28th)
I have no idea why I do not care anymore I just want to sleep all the time. The new revelation started last Friday when I was put back into FTU from PTRP (the first instance of this ever.) There is no reason that I should be treated the way that I have been for the last 50+ weeks. For the initial 9 weeks of basic training I can understand the hazing and ruthless treatment, but not for over a year. I used to be able to cope by listening to music, calling people on a hidden cell phone, or talking to my friends in the bay. But now they will no longer let me talk to my friends or listen to music on the radio, and they found the hidden cell phone and confiscated it. 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. An hour or two of disassociation is the only way I was able put up with the meaningless and mindless bullshit and torment of being here “on duty” 16 hours a day. The only way to describe my life is sorrow, loathing, spitefulness, depression, and endless tortuous misery. Nobody is willing to help improve our treatment or listen to our complaints. I joined the army to make a difference and to help other people. Now I am being help prisoner, doomed to a fate worse than death. 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 am not sure if I lost it in AIT or the beginning of June when I was attached to FTU. I know that I have lost more since Friday and even more last night. I do not know how, why or how I can recover. I do not think I have shown any of the army values for a very long time. I believe I projected the image that I cared for many months and it was just an act; but it was all that I could do. I am being set up for failure and have been for weeks. The fact that this unit will not follow regulations does not inspire hope or willingness to comply with any orders or any of their bogus policies. In my opinion none of the cadre show any of the army values to any of the soldiers here. That is just my opinion and I may not see the whole picture. On exodus I came back with renewed motivation that I have not had since basic training. Drill sergeant Frazier and Langford managed to snuff out all of my hope and drive within the first few days we were all back. I will try to do my best, but I can not manage a positive thought for very long. The army values did mean something to me at one point even though it is just propaganda on paper. I have always known it was just propaganda, but they are a good base for morals if people would lead by example. In conclusion I hope this paper reaches somebody and they read it in whole and are not too judgmental. I also hope that I can improve myself and the situation that I am in. Perhaps I can be what they want me to be. Perhaps I can fulfill my enlistment and be productive, but that is not realistic. And it is not what I really want; all I want in this world is to be anywhere but here. I believe that I have permanent physical and psychological damage from this place. If I could describe this place in 2 words it would be: “Malevolentia Imperium.”

1 Malevolentia: Latin, malevolent; having or exhibiting ill will; wishing harm to others; malicious. Having an evil or harmful influence
2 Imperium: Latin, can be translated as “power”. In Antiquity this concept could apply to people, and mean something like "power status" or "authority", or could be used with a geographical connotation and mean something like "territority".

For no good reason yesterday February 14, somebody decided to take my pillow off my bunk and wipe their ass with it and they also thought it would be a grandiose idea to piss into my canteen (the only drinking container that I have because we are not afforded cups.) I have never done anything to this individual nor have I ever talked badly about him. He just has some malicious hatred for me. This is another fine example of the quality of human beings that we are forced to live with. When I notified the cadre of this they just yelled at and punished everyone including me.

12 Comments:

Blogger Concerned said...

While abuses perpetrated toward any soldier is unacceptable, so is improper behavior by soldiers. The New York Times revealed PFC Scarano was known by his fellow trainees to be abusing narcotic medication and yet they did nothing. The cause of his death according to the autopsy was from an accidental overdose of medication that exceeded the dose he was prescribed. Instead, the responsibility is placed back on the Army, but I fail to see how PFC Scarano and his fellow trainees are not even more accountable for his death. PFC Scarano did not die a casualty of the war on terror but by his own hand by engaging in illegal, not to mention felonious behavior. What other behavior are the trainees hiding to protect themselves? Is there more to the story here that isn't being reported?

9:30 PM  
Blogger Pat deV said...

Dear Concerned:

Thank you for your comments. I can see that you are located in Lawton, Oklahoma...despite your anonymity. That helps me to put your remarks in perspective.

Clever of you to misplace the responsibility in your own remarks as belonging to the US Army. No, again, this is not about the US Army as a whole. This is about Fort Sill's PTRP, and perhaps other PTRP programs as well.

"I told doctors he was not using the medications the way he should have", said the former soldier, Clayton Howell. "But I don't know why they didn't do anything." That's in the same NYT article. Did you miss that? Perhaps the Drill Sergeants who used to laugh and make fun of PFC Scarano when he stumbled out to formation all drugged up with prescribed medication might have become concerned instead of laughing?

Are you inferring that the trainees are hiding other behaviors that would justify the physical and verbal abuse they received because one 21-year old trainee apparently abused his medication? Yes, there is much more to the story here than is being reported. And if it weren't for the climate of fear of reprisal that pervades the families and occupants of Fort Sill's PTRP (both past and present), more of the story could be told. But for those of us who are relating this story, perhaps for different reasons, we have chosen to abide by the wishes of the families and the PTRP-ers.

Mathew Scarano was in the Fort Sill PTRP for 13 months before he died. Fort Sill "broke" him in training, and then treated his injuries with multiple narcotics over the course of time; they nearly doubled his fentanyl dosage and sent him on his merry way supervised only by Drill Sergeants. Was that responsible behavior?

In the end, we really don't know what happened the day he died, because the medication logs controlled by the drill sergeants are conveniently nowhere to be found. Don't take my word for it, call them yourselves. I find that exceptionally interesting.

Since you have chosen to repeat your comments on two different posts, just to be sure you're heard, I'll do the same thing to be sure you get my response. I'd suggest that if you have any remarks for the NYT, you address them directly to Ralph Blumenthal. Oh, that's right... you probably can't do that because he won't have any way to answer you because you're anonymous. Perhaps you are afraid of something, too?

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which came first, the abuse or improper behavior? How the hell can you expect someone to behave "properly" when in constant pain, pumped full of narcotics and other meds, isolated,and living in hell? 'Concerned' are you a military officer or just ignorant? Autopsy performed by who?
I have a son in FT. Carson who was wounded in Iraq by an I.E.D. a few months back and has permanent injuries.
Since he returned to Carson from Walter Reid hospital he's been on Narcotics,sleeping pills, anti-depressants, etc but is expected to be a soldier. I don't think he can take much more abuse
His commander, Maj. Holland, denied his leave even though the military doctors stated it would be in his best interest and he really doesn't have much if anything to offer the military any more. Holland seems to have a personal vendetta against the wounded or at the very least just doesn't care.
My son's personal belongings are still in Iraq after months..wallet and all.
These injured soldiers are put through hell for no readily identifiable reason. These problems are widespread & something has to be done about them. Making the problems visable is a start. It angers me to read about the senseless death of PFC Scarano. The details are all too familiar. How many others have to die before the military leaders wake up and take responsibility for the soldiers?

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

too bad the above comment is anonymous. My son also is at Ft Carson, receiving the same treatment. Or lack of should I say. He was denied leave also, and when I visited, he wasn't allowed to spend anytime off duty. He has a TBI and constant seizures. But they make him "work." He has been in the news, soldier SPC Thurman. If only all of these young guys would catch the word and get together and hammer down on the abuse maybe the military couldn't get away with his anymore!!!!!

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a soldier in a "WTU" I saw many victims of I.E.D blasts, shrapnel wounds and other major damages... The Army medical system is a flawed system I witnessed soldiers with PTSD threatening to kill them selves. No matter the treatment, the way out of the Army takes far longer then getting in. I myself sat in a "WTU" for over a year almost two waiting on a medical board to decide my fate. The amount of pain we were in was irrelevant to what "case management" believed. I saw a soldier once have his case manager say he was an addict because his neck and back hurt so bad he couldn't handle the pain anymore. But they decided it was in his best interests to stop his medical care I for one believe that no matter the outcome for our injured brothers the command in which you are under can ruthlessly take advantage and humiliate you. In no other institution in our country does a singular person have the ability to dictate if we can go home to our family without committing a crime. To my injured and fallen brothers, I know what you and many of you are going through. I say fight every day you can, the longer you stop and wait the longer it takes. Some believe the doctors in the military have the best interests of the soldier at heart but I must admit that the soldier is just a number in which losing that number the platoon and the company lose a soldier can possibly become shorter for an upcoming deployment. With the inability for the Military to recruit new young individuals to fight for our freedom they are allowing the abuse and neglect of our brothers daily. Thank you everyone for listening these young individuals story. The story you have read isn't just in fort sill it is in every one of our bases the injured are not believed they are always lying. If you were to make a singular mistake it would in turn have you reprimanded as a "malingerer" it happens every day don't let anyone tell you it doesn't.

10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can not tell you who i am but have come across this article just on accident by what would like to call fate. i am in the army and type this with one hand as my other arm is in a sling. after getting a sholder injury in air assult school seen as something high speed and something more then just the everyday wear and tear of the us army and combat arms.i was told i am a lier and a profile rider for months, i went through months of therpy and was told on many occasions i would be getting chaptered out... that is after 6 months of service..1 AAM, air assult as a pv2 and a 290 pt score 3rd highest in my battery along with no dispinary probloms.i went from a golden pvt to a diamond in the dirt. but what i did is not be scared, push push and push for the medical care i felt i deserved. at times i felt very depressed helpless and that i had fallen through the cracks of what i would agree is a medical system in shambles. but 5 months after my constant call from god and unwillingness to let not the us army but the people in te us army strip my honor from me i got my surgery and am 3 weeks post op i prey and alot prey for me aswell that i will make a full recovery and can get on with my life and fulfilling my contract. if u see this i ask humbly that u just say a small preyer for me thank u

1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in PTRP with PVT. Scarano, in my opinion we would have made a great soldier. That's all he wanted, as well as I. PTRP does not help those soldiers who want nothing more than to be a soldier. Towards my end there all they cared about was getting us out of the service. That did nothing for me but bring my morale down and believe that I am useless. I was there when PVT. Scarano passed, it was a hard time. Nobody could believe it. I had back surgery and was on a cane that I use to this day, When they started getting soldiers ready for discharge I tried everything to find some loop hole to stay in, but the truth was I was non deployable therefore I had no reason to take up their space. When I heard I had to go to PTRP my morale went to an all time low. Its like I knew my time was over. Theres not a day go by that I don't think about the day he passed. It was a hard day for all. We were like a family and waiting for answers that we never got was hard. It really put a reality on things for me,it proved to me that we were expendable and no matter how bad you want to be all you can be or be that army of 1, PTRP will make sure you are that army of none.

5:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a PTRP-er for over 10 months the miss treatment is unreal by Drill Sgt'S (plural) in both C 95th and B 95th. I feel for the ones who have been there. And for anyone who maybe heading or just getting there try to stay strong. I am one of the 10% who get out and make it to the real Army

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was sent to the ft sill ptrp after completing basic training the first day my drill sgt took me there he went in came out after an hour and took me back to my battery as if he was somehow trying to spare me from its horrors I became another person in there I lost all respect for drill sgts after moving on from it and ultimately caused my discharge from the army I even had my therapist lie just so I could get out of that prison

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its been 7 years and ill never be able to forget that place

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm at PTRP right now at Fort Sill. It's not too bad now. Thanks for everything you've done. You have helped change a lot here. We still feel like soldiers and have hope to move on. Physical Therapist, personal trainers, and Drill Sergeants that care about our well being.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THIS PISSES ME OFF!! The stories are stretched. I could give you the real story but it would make us (ptrp soldiers with Scarano) look bad but I believe the truth should be heard.ya we had it rough but the stories make the soldiers look good and it's ugly but if the truth must be told just ask I could tell ya but it will make the stories told by the privates look bad.....pvt Cain

1:27 PM  

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