Monday, May 08, 2006

Medical Hold Abuse Reaches Beyond Fort Sill

by Patricia deVarennes

If you are perceived as weak, you will be abused. If you are still in training status, you have no status. That seems to be a common attitude among those in command of soldiers in the various medical hold systems at some Army training bases in our country.

During the past five months of blogging about the abusive and inhumane situation at Fort Sill, I have received a large amount of feedback about the PTRP (Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation program) and medical hold programs, not only at Fort Sill, but at other training facilities. One soldier, who asked for complete anonymity, described to me that at one point in the PTRP process, he forgot his first name and had to look it up. He’s never told anyone else that before, but wanted people to understand how dehumanizing and overwhelming the PTRPs can be…

Their stories deserve to be heard.

Although Fort Knox has court-martialed drill sergeants for abuse in Basic Training, abuses in their PTRP apparently went unpunished in the same time frame.

On March 7, 2006, John related his story (additional comments by him were added later and are also included):

"Profiles," or the paperwork that denoted the limits of what you could physically do, were frequently violated by drill sergeants. In one incident, a drill sergeant jokingly jumped on an injured private and cracked some of his ribs. I personally had hair ripped from my chest by a drill sergeant. Getting six hours of sleep and spending all day doing manual labor and standing in formation is not a sufficient way to "heal."

…I was at PTRP at Ft. Knox from early August 2004 to early October 2004. The commanding officer at the time was a physical therapist (this was used to bolster their claim of what a great program it was). Despite this, the return to duty rate seemed relatively low. When people were granted their medical discharge papers by their doctors he would often threaten to shred them, and I believe in the case of one Private in October of 2004 he actually did such.

After I was out, I contacted my congressman. Senator John Cornyn's office actually sparked an investigation with a governing medical unit in the Army. Their conclusion? Well, it pertained to my medical treatment. I really didn't have any complaints there; I was angered at that unit. Their response? "Any claims against the unit should be addressed by the unit." Did the unit ever respond? Nope.

…From what I've heard about Jackson's PTRP, it isn't too bad. Knox, Sill and Benning all have awful reputations, though. In my six weeks there I witnessed one person desert and two others openly threaten suicide to the point where they were discharged. Not that the drill sergeant who said, "Kill yourself, I don't care. You probably deserve it," was much of a morale booster to dozens of injured and disenchanted privates.

While there are good souls who work the PTRPs around this nation, it is keen to remember an old proverb: the fish stinks from the head. My old commanding officer threatening to put medical paperwork through a paper shredder is case in point. PTRPs are often archaic, festering shitholes that have no business existing in the American military, and some of what goes on there is a disgrace to the hundreds of thousands of men and woman who honorably serve our country. I wish I could say that I've mentioned all the downsides to PTRP, but it's only the tip of the iceberg.”

There's plenty I didn't cover- like having injured soldiers buffing all night, all types of bizarre threats, and injuries that people received while in PTRP. One private fell down the stairs and broke his foot; another had a drill sergeant jump on his chest a joke and crack his ribs. Granted, he was friends with the drill sergeant in question, but when a 30 year old man (Drill Sergeant) is jumping on an injured trainee as a game, you have to wonder about their integrity. He was also fond of forcing us to do pushups. I'll never forget Private (name deleted) in medical hold getting "smoked" with us shortly before departing to Walter Reed hospital for back surgery. This is still just the tip of the iceberg. (note: smoking is “corrective training, frequently pushups, used to punish trainees for infractions, real or imagined).

Another Army soldier, who is still in active service, sent me the card shown above. They were apparently issued to all incoming trainees at Fort Benning. He was not injured, but relates what he observed happening to those who were (note: “recycling" means repeating basic training):

“If a soldier was ill or injured enough they sent them home which I know because we had 4 soldiers re-enter during my cycle from other battalions. My corroboration in with what is happening at Ft. Sill though comes from those soldiers I knew well who, for legitimate medical reasons or other reasons were set aside but were right along side of us for our training.

They all should've been gone within a week of being pulled out but most were around till the 7-8th week of training and were being given the run around, one week they'd come in all smiles after being told they'd be discharged in a week and the next day they find out it could take 6. We had one guy hang himself with his belt on his bunk and apparently while we were gone one of the "softer" trainees found himself in the middle of a Drill Seargeant 'Shark Attack' and later that day slit his wrists with his shaving razor.

...There wasn't a minute that went by when the Drill Seargeant's didn't make some type of verbal attack at them or to the rest of us about them to make sure that they and we knew it. With the exception of those that went AWOL, which as I learned when I had to go to the Infirmary happens with alarming frequency despite the warning that it's an offense punishable by "death," that those guys didn't really deserve it. The stigma behind joining the group of 'flunkies' was such that a soldier in my platoon was so against being put in that group that he attempted to stay with us with a back problem so bad he could barely do anything at times.

Not being recycled is the only thing that keeps people from going to sick call sometimes no matter the pain, which is a shame….Especially since the card that they handed us at Benning specifies that as one of our basic, your son's as well, rights along with the right, "To be treated fairly and with the respect which all men and women deserve."

It hurts me to know that so few people are able as in the case with Abu Ghraib and so many other things in life can tarnish the image of many and bring su much pain and unneeded suffering to others. Reading the story of the PTRP unit at Sill just shows the bullheaded stubbornness that a few misguided soldiers can have, in this case the NCOs the ones who are to be the backbone of the Army. That is the type of unprofessionalism that some of the older NCOs that I've come across in my short time in the Army have warned me about. I know that if when and if I reach that level I won't repeat those types of offenses.

I'd like to thank you for sounding the alarm for these types of abuses happening within the system that is to breed the sons and daughters that are to bleed. If it's going to happen anywhere the last place it should be is on US soil and definitely not in training, or bowels therein. While my experience at Ft. Benning was not the most perfect of times the bulk of my Drills were looking out for us and for that I thank them.

“PFC Ski” runs a site dedicated to the PTRP . He has made his story public in order to try to help other current and former PTRP occupants, and to try to open a dialog with the Army. His injuries are permanent…so is his pain. Here is an excerpt of his story:

PTRP it's a name that anybody who has been in will never forget.
I outlasted most of the SGTs and all of the IET [Initial Entry Trainees] and AITs [Advanced Individual Trainees] at FLW [Fort Leonard Wood].

It is Groundhog Day, and the only time we felt like soldiers is when somebody did something wrong or it as a bad day for the SGT on duty. Most people I served with want to forget what happened, some of them don't talk at all about it like it never happened.

I was 26 in 2000. My father and his father both Army, my father being a cop I had a different childhood then most . My point is that I was no HS grad that never had a job, I worked as a Loss prevention Detective and worked court cases (I never lost a case). I know whats right and wrong.

My first clue that things were not right was when we were sent to burn in the sun in PTs with no head gear July in MO, the MO heat has melted the wax off my combat boots, and it did it that week. My skin has not changed back where I was burned, and some had to got the hospital for burns.

Even the coldest shower on my head hurt like hell.

What happened while I was in PTRP was not military, it was hate, nothing less then hate for us.

The Army knows whats going on Patricia, they just have to look at the amout of stress fractures going into PTRP and then coming out.

At FLW PTRP they got rid of most the bad SGTs, and for a while it was just the every day "Groundhog Day" that was the problem.

While I was in we only had 2 books our Army "smart Book" and our religious choice. No other reading was allowed. We were to read standing at the end of our bunks, we would go months without phone calls, we had to sneak body soap and writing paper from people who went to the hospital as the SGTs maybe took us to get stuff once a month; people wanted paper and pens more then soap that should tell you something.

I have seen things that I think my own blood family thinks I'm lying about.

I have seen people forced out of med profile only to hurt them self more and get medboarded.

They would stick FTU [Fitness Training Unit] in with us, they have no military anything and would cause problems and we PTRP would also get punished. They did this fully knowing this would happen.

I have seen people forced to kneel on ACLs [torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament, severe injury of the knee] forced "front back gos" people while stress fractures in hips no less...[Front =pushup position; back =flutter kick position; go = running in place].

Some do this because they want to weed out people that most likely will not make it back, and they think that hurting them more will hurry this and move other people into a bunk.

Some do it because they are well F**ked, I seen good people get broke because they would "smoke them" before their test to get out of PTRP.

2 fireguards a night for 2 weeks does strange things too you, on top of no sleep you cant take your pain meds on fear of falling asleep on duty. They know this fully.

AWOLs, some killed themselves after getting to the holding company going out of the Army, the list goes on. We even had SGTs who would smoke us right after we ate, some threw up because of their pain meds.

I did 2 basics before PTRP, I was sent back to week 1 1/2 because I missed 4 sit-ups on my last test. I did basic again mostly helping soldiers and odd jobs BRM D&C map training, but me and other holdovers never did anything dangerous like a course. The last week before graduating they sent all the holdover and myself on a course. My Buddie that came with me from my first time around basic went with me to ask if we had to do this as we seen many people get hurt the first time we did it.

SGT said no we had to do it, I got half done with the course, went up 30 feet and fell. After I fell they pulled all the hold overs and anybody who did it before off.

It was found that 1 should not have been sent back too another basic 2. I should have never been on that course. I got retired 30%

I had too fight to get 100% SS and 100% VA, I was but on TRDL Temp Retired Disabled List and have had too go to Walter Reed every year too get checked too see how I'm doing.

I just got a letter 5 days ago that they want to drop my retirement to 20% just off being retired. They can only keep you on TRDL for 5 years this was my last year I have been found disabled all these years but the last year they can keep me on they want to short change me.

So now I have to fight again.

…I have a torn rotor cuff and nerve damage RSD yahoo search RSD and you will see how bad this is. I am unable to do anything I did before the Army and it hurts all the time.

I was promoted just before I left , I was also retired with a flag, I have no show able vise with the Army, as in I have no 15's or had to leave with problems, I
was shown as a model soldier.

I also worked outside PTRP was given freedom tho this was at the end of it all.

I miss the Army more then my own life. The family you have in the Army is closer then Blood family and if they said they could fix me but it would take 15 years off my life I would do it so I could go back in the Army.

As bad as it is for all this to happen here, at home, I did not imagine that it happened in a war with the same arrogance and lack of purpose. In some ways, it was yet more shocking to me when I received the following comment on my blog:

“Date: Mar 27, 2006 10:37 AM
Subject: [We Are All Volunteers in This Army] 3/27/2006 06:37:53 AM

I was called up for the first gulf war despite the fact that I had a broken ankle and a torn ligament in my knee and was wearing a cast. The colonel in charge of the battalion wanted 100 percent mobilization.

When I got to the mobilization station I was shuffled off to a similar temporary holding unit with other injured soldiers. As an NCO I wasn't treated nearly this badly, but we were basically abandoned til the war ended and then they couldn't dump us out fast enough. Despite having a cast and crutches, I had to supervise civilians and soldiers outdoors in subzero temperatures in snow and ice. Consequently, I fell and reinjured my ankle.

During this whole time you are made to feel like a criminal, as if you had done this to yourself just to get out of something. I have read many articles that say the same things are happening now and talked to a few old buddies who are still on active duty that say the same. Once you are no longer of use to them they quit caring about you.

I am in the American Legion now and we are constantly fighting the cuts to the VA benefits this admnistration has put forth. It is the same mindset at work.”

The situation at the various PTRP or medical hold locations throughout the Army is longstanding and, in some cases (such as Fort Sill), critical. Their stories speak for themselves. Their stories are all too familiar. It should not be this way. These young men and women are our family members, our friends, out friends’ kids, our coworkers and our neighbors.

The PTRP and medical hold systems need a complete overhaul. The original purpose of the PTRP was intended to relieve soldiers of many of the physical and psychological strains and stresses associated with the IET (Initial Entry Training) environment at training posts. Obviously, the situation is intensified and more dangerous when soldiers are in a training environment, but even release from that environment is no insurance against abuse if you are injured. If the Drill Sergeants and chains of command over these injured soldiers are incapable of supervising the care of the injured, they should pass these soldiers over to those who can take care of them in their home communities, or at the very least, in a competent medical rehabilitation setting that addresses their physical injuries and treats them as human beings instead of trash.

(Note: Any blog comments are available for review throughout the various blogposts)

Thanks to JoAnn Wypijewski for keeping me going when I got discouraged, and believing in this story when no one else did.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


3:08 PM  
Blogger Taexalia said...

You are doing awesome work and I'm proud to know you. x

3:17 AM  
Blogger Redhen said...

Thank you for making this information public. I belong to a group of parents of soldiers killed in uninvestigated non-combat situations. My own son was tortured the year before his death by being forced to re-injure his rotator cuff over and over in the course of a year. Please join us at

2:34 PM  
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?

9:27 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?

10:29 PM  
Blogger Concerned said...

Ms. DeV - I hold people accountable for their own behavior. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the USA who are prescribed narcotic medications for one reason or another. All are accountable for how they use it - they all don't need human monitors; just mature behavior on proper use of prescription medication. The majority have no problems.

How I see it, is that PFC Scarano's fellow trainees betrayed him by not telling the ones in charge about their knowledge about his behavior, because they were afraid of punishment for PFC Scarano, as you suggested. Punishment rather than death would have been more preferable. Wouldn't you agree? Doctors aren't in the unit to manage day-by-day matters, the cadre are. Shame on drill sergeants too who didn't ask questions about overmedicated behavior.

I beg to disagree -- we do know what killed PFC Scarano and that is by having three times the fatal limit of the pain medication in his body. The only way for that to happen is if he orally ingested his medication, just like others described. Look it up in a pharmacology textbook or talk to a pharamacist. His behavior. His choice. He was the one most responsible for his own death. Did other factors play a role; yes, how could they not.

I hear there have been a multitude of changes in the Ft. Sill PTRP program since you and others have brought to light particular abusive situations that existed. Kudos on your efforts.

The reason for my vocality is the seemingly grouping everything into one pot, when evidence suggests otherwise -- particuarly when it involves drug addictions. I have lived with family members who have had drug addictions and have even died from them. PFC Scarano's legacy at Ft. Sill should be to emphasis the need for increased knowledge about drug addiction and how fellow soldiers have an duty to them and commands in helping to identify and seek treatment for soldiers who need it. Something to think about from an anonymous okie.

12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"we do know what killed PFC Scarano and that is by having three times the fatal limit of the pain medication in his body. The only way for that to happen is if he orally ingested his medication."

Actually, he could have metabolized it more slowly especially when you take into consideration the other medications he was on.
They also doubled his dose two days before his death, Takes 48 hours to see effect of new dose.
There are a multitude of causes for higher levels of a drug in someones system, abuse is only one of them.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Concerned said...

Anonymous -- according to a pharmacist I checked with before authoring my comments, fentanyl doses three times the known fatal dose is impossible except through abusive misuse. Being a slow metabolizer or accounting for any drug-drug interactions would not cause the toxic level found in PFC Scarano's blood results. High doses of fentanyl are only used with like cancer patients and would still fall beneath the fatal dose level. The pharmacist I know is nearly certain he would have been on low doses of fentanyl for chronic shoulder pain. There really is no other explaination for a dose that is three times the fatal dose level, other than medication abuse. The same thing is said by a pharmacist and county cornorer in another recent article about PFC Scarano that can be found at

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well your pharmacist friend may need to go back to school and learn his field.
I am in a profession in which I administer fentanyl EVERY day to many many patients. I can say with certainty that the people in my field know these types of drugs better than most any other field.
But, what I say is not important how about what the FDA says.

"A patient using the fentanyl skin patch may have a sudden and possible dangerous rise in their body level of fentanyl or have a stronger effect from fentanyl if they:

Use other medicines that affect brain function
Drink alcohol (beer, wine, or distilled spirits)
Have an increase in body temperature or are exposed to heat
Use other medicines that affect how fentanyl is broken down in the body."

The entire text follows. At any rate I do not believe there is a pharmacist out there dumb enough to say that toxic levels of fentanyl only occur with abuse. Maybe you talked to a pharmacy tech.

Deaths Seen With Fentanyl Narcotic Pain Patch

July 15, 2005 -- The FDA today has issued a health advisory regarding the safe use of fentanyl skin patches (brand name Duragesic) in response to reports of deaths in patients using this potent narcotic medication for pain management.

The FDA is conducting an investigation into the deaths associated with these patches. It's unclear if the deaths are due to inappropriate use of the patch or factors related to the quality of the product, according to the advisory.

Deaths and overdoses have occurred in patients using both the brand name product Duragesic and the generic product fentanyl. The directions for using the fentanyl skin patch must be followed exactly to prevent death or other serious side effects from overdosing with fentanyl, according to the FDA.

Safety Information You Need to Know

Some patients and doctors may not be fully aware of the dangers of this very strong narcotic painkiller. Therefore, the FDA is highlighting the following important safety information:

Fentanyl skin patches are very strong narcotic painkillers that may cause death from overdose. The fentanyl skin patch should always be prescribed at the lowest dose needed for pain relief.
Fentanyl skin patches should not be used to treat short-term pain, pain that is not constant, or for pain after an operation. Fentanyl skin patches should only be used by patients who are already taking other narcotic painkillers and who have chronic pain that is not well controlled with shorter-acting painkillers.
Patients who are using the fentanyl skin patch should follow their doctor's and pharmacist's directions exactly.
Patients who are using the fentanyl skin patch should safely store and dispose of used, unneeded, or defective fentanyl skin patches. Fentanyl skin patches should be stored in a safe place and kept out of the reach of children. Safely dispose of used, unneeded, or defective fentanyl skin patches by folding the sticky side of the patch together (until it sticks to itself) and flushing it down the toilet.
Signs of Overdose

Patients who use the fentanyl skin patch should be aware of the signs of fentanyl overdose: trouble breathing or shallow breathing; tiredness, extreme sleepiness, or sedation; inability to think, talk, or walk normally; and feeling faint, dizzy, or confused. If these signs occur, patients or their caregivers should get medical attention right away.

A patient using the fentanyl skin patch may have a sudden and possible dangerous rise in their body level of fentanyl or have a stronger effect from fentanyl if they:

Use other medicines that affect brain function
Drink alcohol (beer, wine, or distilled spirits)
Have an increase in body temperature or are exposed to heat
Use other medicines that affect how fentanyl is broken down in the body.
Patients should discuss all the above factors with their doctor or pharmacist.

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few more articles in which to educate yourself and your pharmacist friend. You may also want to look at all the attorneys who are litigating fentanyl deaths, it is BIG BUSINESS.

I don't know the specifics of the autopsy, but I do know that they would report a lethal plasma level without conjecture as to cause. There are too many possibilites

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) received a report of a 77-year-old woman who died in March 2005 after using the fentanyl patch. Her primary care physician called in a prescription for the patch without examining her or educating her about the drug. She did not receive education from the pharmacy either, according to the ISMP's report.

The woman's friend helped her place the patch on her buttock, and the woman later used a heating pad in that area. Heating pads, electric blankets, heat lamps, saunas, hot tubs, or heated water beds should not be used with the patch. "The heat will speed up the movement of fentanyl from the patch into the body much more rapidly than normal," Stanski says. "This creates a risk for an overdose situation."

Two days later, friends discovered that the woman had died. She had apparently used two of the five patches prescribed. According to the ISMP, in addition to using a heating pad with the patch, it is suspected that a second patch was applied without removing the first one.

Too much medication from a fentanyl patch also could be absorbed if a patch is damaged or broken. The effects may also be exaggerated if a person wearing a patch drinks alcohol, or takes other medicines that depress brain function. "As part of its pain-relieving effect, fentanyl also causes brain depression as seen by some sleepiness and sedation," Stanski says. "This can add to the effects of other drugs like sedatives and tranquilizers."

Fentanyl also should not be used with certain HIV drugs and antifungal medicines. "The HIV drugs slow the metabolism or breakdown of fentanyl in the body and can create an overdose situation," Stanski says. Patients should make sure their doctors know about all the medicines they are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Death and other serious problems have occurred because people were accidentally exposed to the fentanyl patch. According to Janssen, a patch was transferred from an adult to a child while hugging. In another case of unintended exposure, someone accidentally sat on a patch.

The ISMP says that a mother reported that her 4-year-old son died after applying the patch to his body. He either used a discarded fentanyl patch or a new one. She found him on the floor near an overturned trash can that contained discarded patches and wrappers.

Fentanyl patches should be stored in a secure place and kept out of reach of children. According to Duragesic's labeling, patches should be disposed of by folding the adhesive side of the patch together so that it sticks to itself. The patch should then be flushed down the toilet immediately upon removal.,3915,258%7CDuragesic,00.html

What drug(s) may interact with fentanyl? (Back to top)
•antidepressant drugs called MAOIs
•anti-retroviral protease inhibitors, especially ritonavir
•imatinib, STI-571
•herbal products containing St. John's wort
•medicines for diarrhea
•medicines for high blood pressure
•medicines for seizures
•mifepristone, RU-486
•other strong medicines for pain
Because fentanyl may cause drowsiness, other medications that also cause drowsiness may increase this effect of fentanyl. Some medicines that cause drowsiness are:
•alcohol and alcohol-containing medicines
•barbiturates, such as phenobarbital
•certain antidepressants or tranquilizers
•muscle relaxants
•certain antihistamines used in cold medicines
Ask your prescriber or health care professional about other medicines that may increase the effect of fentanyl.

In December 2005, surviving family members of two Utah women filed lawsuits against Janssen Pharmaceutica and Alza Corporation, the manufacturer and distributor of the Duragesic skin patch, which the families say leaked and caused the deaths of both women.

Autopsy reports said Gina Danise, 42, and Victoria Price, 56, both died from drug poisoning after using drug pain patches.

A third lawsuit, by the Utah family of Marilyn Titus, 72, who died two years ago, was also filed in December 2005.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lastly I found the article from PFC Scaranos' hometown in which his mother discusses the autopsy report.

Scarano-Bailey said she has examined her copy of the autopsy report and said that nowhere in it does it state signs of the patches were found in Scarano's stomach, mouth or teeth

7:14 PM  
Blogger Concerned said...

Anonymous - According to Army investigators, there are witnesses that acknowledge PFC Scarano improperly consumed his medication orally which is consistent with autopsy findings and most suggestive of substance abuse. As you may be aware, one can consume liquid medication orally and it not show up in the stomach; nor is it necessary to actually consume a fentanyl patch to ingest the substance orally, as the article you cite reports.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did these witnesses see him orally ingest fentanyl on the night of his death? I do not believe they did, therefore to say that he died from oral ingestion is pure CONJECTURE, not fact. It should not be presented as a fact when it is only an assumption. That is what I take issue with here.

My point through all of this is that we can not say with certainty how the plasma levels were elevated, only that they were elevated and it was lethal.

As easily as you make the argument for ingestion I could make the argument that in this opioid naive patient the intial dose was already too high, so that when the dose was doubled, it was lethal. But, that too is pure conjecture.

7:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part and parcel with the way the Army handles injuries of many sorts is to "drug em and keep them quiet".

There is little to no ACTIVE treatment to an injury. As a result, the injury either does not get better, or worsens.

Is it no wonder recruits get addicted to pain meds?

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Carol said...

I stumbled onto this site as I was researching hip stress fractures in the Army. I returned, last night, from Ft. Sill, where my son's platoon graduated from basic. He's been held back because he can't do the timed run in the alloted time, due to stress fractures in both hips. He didn't tell his DS because he didn't want to be pulled from basic. It's been between he and the doc. Tomorrow he's moving over to PTRP and, after reading these posts, I'm TERRIFIED for him. Is there ANY way at ALL that I can help to protect him from these deplorable abuses? I'm worried sick. How can they DO this to our soldiers?

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in the Warrior Rehab program at Ft. Leonard Wood MO. I just want to say that the Abuse and poor medical care still exists. In my 2 months of the program I personally witnessed 5 suicide attempts. Out of 40 Males, that has got to be way over the National Average. My e-mail address is if any would like to contact me....

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am currently a soilder in PTRP in one of the Army's basic training posts. I have been in the Army 7 months and PTRP 3 of them. In my experience in "captivity" I have discovered that the Army's logic in training recruits is pure ignorance. Basic training has gone soft to appeal the new generations of soilders entering in the Army. War at Terror = Softer Basic. Oh yeah... who thought that through. I know your asking... "If Basic was soooo easy, why didnt you graduate?" Bad luck is my only answer. Pretty much everyone in here with me will tell you that. But anyways... as for PTRP. The PTRP where i'm currently in is a joke. Our success ratio, as according to one of the Drill Sergeants, is 1 in 11. Yes... one out of eleven privates that come to PTRP at my anonymous Post actually graduates. The rest are medically discharged, ELS'd, or go AWOL. Now... with a success ratio that small... why would the government spend the tax payers money to keep a program like this going? Good Question. Now I could sit here and complain all about how this place sucks... and it does.. but that isn't going to make things better. So there. Blog about that.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Mary Bahr said...

I am a GI rights counselor with a desperate mother in florida whose daughter is in Ft Leonard woods PTRP and is suicidal. Please contact me at we need help!

Mary Bahr

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 2005 I went to Basic in Ft. Leonard Wood. Right before graduation (about 2 wks) Drs did an x-ray on me wich revealed at stress fracture on my pelvis. I was removed from training. I was gonna get sent to the PTRP facility but they concluded that I was not "motivated". Duh...I had to watch everyone graduate without me. Drill Sgts called me "cripple" "gimp" "crutches"....derogitory names. Other Pvts kicked my crutches out from underneith me. Like I said, I DID NOT go to PTRP. There was another facility in FLW called "Warrior Rehab Company" (WRC for short)

WRC was hell. We were deprived of our rights as human beings. Drill Sgts from other companies would heckle and harass us and the Drill Sgts that were in charge of us would see it and allow it, sometimes they would join in and tell us we were "cripples and shouldn't be in the Army".

Pvts that were getting suicidal and drepressed would request psycological counseling and our own Drill Sgts would call them "Crazy", "Loonies" and so forth...thus making us NOT want to recieve help for depression for fear of harassment. Because of this, Pvts were abusing their pain medications to cope, going AWOL, self mutilating themselvs and attempting suicide. On 2 seperate occasions I had to clean up suicide attempts. I will never forget having to stick my hand in a toilet full of blood to fish out razor blades....

If the Pvts in WRC felt like we were being misstreated and requested to talk to the Chain of Command about our situation, our Senior Drill Sgt would stop us. She would intimidate us, bully us, and once told a new Pvt that was visably upset about being placed in WRC that she would give her something to "cry about".

Self mutilation was a norm. Pvts would cut themselvs with pins, shaving razors, anything they could get their hands on.

AWOL happened a lot. While I would never go AWOL and thought little of those that did, I understood their reasons for doing so.

The Pvts that healed from WRC and went back into training had to worry about harassment from the Drill Sgts "down range" (in training). They would sometimes single out former WRC Pvts. One Drill Sgt "down range" jumped on a female soldier and dislocated her pelvis. While he was still STANDING ON HER HIPS he told her, "I told you I'd make you'r training miserable you broke P.O.S!!" She was sent back to us at WRC.

That was another common thing...former soldiers from WRC being sent back to us with their previous injuries worse than before. I believe that it's because they were so DESPERATE to get out that they faked being better, only to break worse.

From what I read about PTRP in FLW....a lot of it seemed like physical abuse. We were not physically abused in WRC. It was emotional abuse and neglect.

I spent 4 months in WRC. I "healed" and graduated Basic. 4 weeks into my AIT, my stress fracture snapped all the way thru the bone. When I broke in AIT I had a total meltdown, I was overcome by this fear of being sent to another Med-Hold facility similar to WRC. I am now home. But I still think of what we went thru in WRC.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Pat deV said...

Thanks to all for their comments. Carol, I hope that your son made it out okay. Feel free to contact me at ptrosss(at)

To the Anonymous poster who said: "The PTRP where i'm currently in is a joke. Our success ratio, as according to one of the Drill Sergeants, is 1 in 11. Yes... one out of eleven privates that come to PTRP at my anonymous Post actually graduates. The rest are medically discharged, ELS'd, or go AWOL. Now... with a success ratio that small... why would the government spend the tax payers money to keep a program like this going? Good Question. Now I could sit here and complain all about how this place sucks... and it does.. but that isn't going to make things better. So there. Blog about that.

Thanks for the suggestion. It's called the Retention program. Your COs promotion points, etc are dependent on how many trainees are on the roster as active. Attrition = penalty. It doesn't matter how badly injured a trainee is, as long as that individual is "active" and not discharged.

Another Anonymous said: "In 2005 I went to Basic in Ft. Leonard Wood. Right before graduation (about 2 wks) Drs did an x-ray on me wich revealed at stress fracture on my pelvis. I was removed from training. I was gonna get sent to the PTRP facility but they concluded that I was not "motivated". Duh...I had to watch everyone graduate without me. Drill Sgts called me "cripple" "gimp" "crutches"....derogitory names. Other Pvts kicked my crutches out from underneith me. Like I said, I DID NOT go to PTRP. There was another facility in FLW called "Warrior Rehab Company" (WRC for short)" Please contact me at ptrosss(at)

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son enlisted right out of h.s. and yes the recruiter did make his promises. I am sickened to the fact my son ended up in PTRP for a stress fracture in his leg and then required me to pay for his airline ticket home for 30days and then back. And God forbid if he did not return he would be considered AWAL.

After returning to Ft. Benning, GA he waited weeks before anyone would even evaulate him. Whole time thinking if no word is good then he's okay and back in basic. WELL, little did we know that he would still be sitting in PTRP and strenously training even though his stress fractures are still there. Now he has swollen lymph nodes near his kidneys and groin and now his neck. They wanted to do a biopsy and was to do pre-op testing on him and have the biopsy by going under (which he has never had before). Well long story short he ended up going for pre-op and sat for hrs and hrs to find out they had someone elses report!!!! Now pushing surgery/biopsy even further. Thus my son is still considered a recruit at this time, as of Aug. 13th my son will be enlisted for now 6mons therefore was told they own him and there is nothing that can be done. No honorable discharge, or medical leave etc etc. I am listening to my son tell me horror stories of what is going on there and the doctors , chain of command can care less. How the heck can he even get a medical discharge even after he has surgery and even (God Forbid) anything is really wrong how can they discharge my son dishonorably>??? What the hell is going on out there. I have emailed my congressman but guess i have to go up their chain of command now. This is crazy. He is my only child. He wanted Infantry and was so proud of himself. He did only 5 wks of basic as was already a team leader. He actually loved it until he was injured. Now hates everything and the treatment is so uncalled for. What the heck can I do? Call OPRAH or 20/20 or someone who will investigate this nonsense. I need some advise here bad! I called the Chaplin and 3 commanding officers freaked on him over me just inquiring on my son's health status. My son comes home more injured I don't know what I will do!!!

Pls. contact me back but keep me anynonmys.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous MAD MOM said...

their is no way they can give anyone a dishonarible discharge. all your son need is to request a JAG officer they can do nothing until he has a jag officer.

But the abuse that is going on needs to stop

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What ticks me off is that while Patriotism is good and noble it's to the point where any question or accusation of Military Abuse turns us into "liars" and "anti-military".

Are we not allowed to question unethical treatment? Or bring up injustice? I mean if we are liars, then everyone in Walter Reed are liars, oh and the Jewish Soldier that was beaten up in BCT...gosh maybe he made that up. And when reports of sexual harassment of female soldiers come out...that must be anti-military garbage. Oh gosh....our mass conspiracy has be foiled.


To those who accuse me or any of us of lying....we can't sue the Army, we get no monitary gain from these accusations.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went through basic at FLW in 2004, I am not over the abuse I received there to date, but I am working to move past it, I am not suprised that the abuse is repeated over and over, and at other locations, however I had no idea anyone was speaking out about it. I was so afraid to even talk about my experience (except w/ mom) I am still suffering from the physical and mental pain and injuries I received there. I could deal with the physical damage better than the mental.... Even after the physical is healed or at least tolerable, the mental anguish seems to linger. Sometimes I think I will never be able to move beyond it. Even before my injuries, what i witnessed in the first 3 weeks at FLW was beyond anything I could have imagined. I watched a fellow soldier attempt to kill himself in front of everyone. DS had to get a knife to cut his belt and remove it from his neck. I watched a young lady attempt to OD on cold meds, another sliced her arms from elbow to wrist repeatedly, the list of physical injuries from training is well, there are too many to try and list. It's unbelievable. I try not to think about it but it is always there. Reading these stories I am in tears, I know the pain these soldiers are enduring, for those who have not been through it, it is easy enough to dismiss it and to say oh, well that aint so bad. But when you live it.... it's something totally different. It's real, and it is beyond what one could simply try to imagine or sympathise.You cannot possibly attempt to relate to this unless you have been there. I guess I will close with saying my prayers are with all these soldiers. I hope things will change, and maybe by telling our stories and bringing light to the abuse, things will change. The injured and sick should be given the opportunity to heal and get well before continuing their training.

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All too familiar story....I had level 4 pubic stress fractures I got in basic at ft Leonardwood. I refused to be a hold over after seeing people that had been stuck there for months. I thought getting out of there and getting to Ft Sam would be better...if only I had known what lay ahead. To the people accusing PFC Scaranos of misusing his meds....well these conditions that we were forced to live in made misuse of medication an all too often occurance. You are broken, both physically and mentally, beat down on a daily basis. Unless you have lived through this you have no idea how easy it is to become dependant on the meds as a crutch. Not only because you are forced to do tasks that cause you severe physical pain, but because the emotional pain is just as bad. I loved the "real" army! I wanted to heal and return to finish my training, but I couldn't take the thought of spending the time needed to heal in that emotionally draining atmosphere. The highlight of my day was going to "work" at my assigned detail with the "real army". Away from the training/Med hold... these officers and army personnel treated us with the with the respect we deserved. They showed us what the "real army" was made of! I am forever grateful for that detail and the people I came in contact with! Without their integrity, respect and commitment to their jobs I very well could've been a person who didn't make it out alive! I know not everyone was as lucky as I was...not everyone got to go and work at a detail where your injuries didn't define you and make you worthless! I saw the ones who never got a break...I lived through weekends of abuse and the only thing that got me through was knowing Monday I would get away from the angry, bitter POS that thrived off making our lives miserable!

8:18 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I was in Brovo company 1/81 fort knox during 04-05. I revived simular treatment and when I try to get help I for the panic attacks that were getting the best of me from, being slammed in the chow hall, being head over the head with the bazooka (not sure the actual name), made to shoot children targets for hrs at a time. And of course then made an example for seeking help. My discharge statement is blank and my DD214 is incomplete.

10:28 PM  

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