Thursday, February 16, 2006

Wounded soldier charged 700 bucks for body armor 
The last time 1LT William Rebrook saw his kevlar vest, medics were cutting it from his shrapnel-ravaged body as he was being prepared for an aerial medevac.

His wounds forced him to leave the Army. But before he could be discharged, the Army forced him to cough up 700 bucks to replace the gear he lost.

This is the kind of bullshit that does more than anything else to cause me to want to leave the Army. This one is obvious. A no-brainer for anyone whose been on the bi-directional shooting range to resolve: Soldiers who are wounded routinely have their gear stripped from them at some point during the medevac process. Weapons are not generally medevaced with the soldier, but stay with the unit. All protective gear is medevaced, though - It's personal protective gear, and the soldier will need it for the trip, and to return to his unit if his wounds allow for an RTD status.

(Memo to the medical unit: You don't have to burn the whole piece of equipment. You can burn the vest. But you can remove the plates and just hose them off, geniuses. If we got a Humvee soaked in blood, would it make sense to burn it? No! We hosed it, morons! Sheesh! THERE'S the negligent party!)

Here's the deal: Soldiers who are rendered unconscious from their wounds, or are in a state of shock (which is a lot of them) are not in a position to be strictly accountable for the gear they are personally signed for. It's stupid to expect that. If a soldier is put under for surgery, he's going to be separated from his gear. The medical unit generally has an informal process in place, but it's off the books at present - it doesn't automatically go back to the unit with the wounded soldier. And I'd slap any survey officer that finds negligence on the part of the wounded soldier under those conditions.

Now, the soldier's platoon sergeant directs the evacuation (even for officers). The PSG should know what the soldier was evacuated with. The most the unit can do at that point, if the soldier does not return to the unit, is create a memo stating the gear was evacuated with the soldier. The property book officer performs the adjustment, and THE GEAR IS SUPPOSED TO COME OFF THE COMPANY'S BOOKS.

(In the case of mobilized reserve component units, though, this is a problem. Many times the brigade HQ, with the Brigade PBO office, does not mobilize with the unit. Hilarity ensues.)

Well, if the company did it's job, the company is no longer liable for the equipment, nor is the battalion commander. Nor is the medical holding unit from whence this officer was discharged. Everybody knows that soldiers don't account for their own equipment until they come out of the CASH ER, at least. So why the problem signing it off? It seems to me to be a straight report of survey field loss.

What kind of retarded bureaucracy have we created?

Commanders need to have a strong command supply discipline program (CSDP) in place. I spend a lot of time on it. Hell, I spend more time on that than on training, which is wrong, but that's the corner the Army's company grade leaders are being pushed into.

Commanders have to be on top of their soldiers, who have to be on top of their gear.

But in combat, shit happens.

And when the potential liabilities of military service exceed the potential rewards, a lot of us will be gone. Ok, maybe I'll still be commanding a Headquarters Company somewhere. The smart ones will leave, anyway.

And if we're gonna punch our soldiers in the face on the way out the door, I don't blame them.

Splash, out


Jason, it's particularly because this is a no-brainer that I'm suspicious. I want to see the Report of Survey that was done. There has GOT to be more to this story than the soldier is telling the reporter. There is nobody in our Army at the rank of 0-5 or above who would dumb enough to approve charging this guy under the circumstances described.

If they presented him a statement of charges or cash collection voucher, he can refuse it and force an investigation. If they handed him a report of survey, he's supposed to get JAG help if he feels the findings are wrong and no JAG would have let him pay up on this.

I'm also suspicious that 'he had to pay cash'. That's just not the way it's done. Usually they deduct anything you owe from your last paycheck.

Did the reporter ask to see the paperwork associated with this charge him/herself? I doubt it.
Jason - This guy has already said he chose to pay the money rather than fill out the paperwork because he didn't want to prolong his outprocessing at all. Personally, I don't understand the whole thing. But, FYI.

CIF is crazy, though. They wouldn't let a guy from my husband's unit keep his bullet riddled kevlar as a souvenir. Even though it was completely useless to them.
Oh, and Maj D apparently its not the soldier that went to the press. Apparently it was his mother. He seemed rather embarrassed about the whole thing and the article I saw quoted him as saying he loved the Army and it was just a beaurocratic thing.
I'm surprised you're taking the Ted Kennedy approach on this old story.

1) The Army has already said that the Soldier will be reimbursed.

2) The Soldier himself said that it was just a bureaucratic snafu. He himself said that he could have waited a few weeks for the paperwork to catch up to him, but he was ready to get out then. “I understand what they were saying, but from my perspective it was a hard pill to swallow,” Rebrook said Tuesday. Despite the “bureaucratic snafu,” as Rebrook calls it, he holds no grudges. “I love the Army,” Rebrook said. “I love my soldiers. I loved being in it.”

This isn't an evil policy that the Army has in place. There's no malevolence here. It's just a typical paperwork snafu that occurs when you have as many moving pieces and parts all over the world -- including in combat zones -- as the Army has.

Some people screwed up, the LT had to pay for his lost body armor, and now it's fixed. There was no punch in the face on the way out the door, just a silly misunderstanding that is bound to happen on occasion.
While the situation has been taken care of, I am starting to think that the Army is going through another "no faults noted" phase again. I remember in '77 when I reported to my Battalion in Germany, the supply sergeants had just been moved from the companies to battalion (aka SAC). I signed for my tanks and stuff and about 4 months later, all the paper work was lost at the SAC. So I redid the inventories (back before there were computers) and resigned for my stuff and then down to the TCs, with copies to battalion, a year later, every thing was lost again (across the BN) and at this time the Army was getting serious on supply accountability. Bde Cdr: "Whether you ever had it or not, if it is on your inventory you own it". Fortunately for a lot of out going company commanders, a GP Small burnt up in the field (amazing all the stuff that was in there), followed by another fire in a supply hut (even more stuff in there). I think the property book officer was just trying to get himself in order and thought he/she could get it this way.

BTW, good luck when you change command.
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