Operation Recovery

The Fort Hood Testimony Report

Kimberly MacArthur *

US Army veteran, Signal Intelligence Analyst

 

Editor’s Note: Kimberly is an Army veteran in her early twenties who served as a Signal Intelligence Analyst. Over the course of several years, she was made to run and do other physical activities at work against her medical profiles, which led her to need surgery to implant fake hip parts. At the time of her interview, she had recently received a general discharge from the Army for Patterns of Misconduct. Kimberly described several ways she sees soldiers being chaptered out before their ETS dates amidst the drawdown in ways that are not accountable to soldiers’ health. She herself feels her command just wanted to get rid of her, and used the excuse of a recent legal charge which dealt with by civilian authorities and had been expunged from her record.


I joined the military because everyone in my family is in the military. My dad’s a Marine. My grandpa was in the Army, all my uncles are in the Navy, my brother’s about to join the Army. It’s just what we do.

I was hoping that it would be everything that my family had said it would be—you’ll always have help, you’d always have camaraderie with everyone, you’d always have people. And I’m a big people person, so I’m like, “Okay, yeah!” And you get school, so it’s just a whole package deal, but it turned out not to be a help.

NCOs, instead of people being selfish and only thinking about themselves, they’re supposed to take care of the lower enlisted soldiers that haven’t been in the Army or haven’t been in the real world for a very long time. I joined the Army right after I got out of high school. I just worked for the summer, and then I was gone. And I didn’t have a lot of living on my own experience. I had some issues with it. And no one was there to help me, ’cause they were too wrapped up in their own selfs to take time to help their soldiers. Which is a lot of the reason why I got chaptered out, because no one was there to help me.

…I don’t have PTSD, I didn’t deploy, or anything like that. But I’m 22 years old, and I have fake hip parts in my leg, because of the Army running me on my profile, when it said that I’m not supposed to run. When I’m not supposed to walk up stairs, I’m not supposed to carry stuff, I’m not supposed to wear an IOTV. I’m not supposed to carry a rucksack. I’m not supposed to do anything like that.

And it continuously messed my hip up, because you can’t say, “No. I have a profile.” They’ll be like, “Psshht,” pretty much will poo on your profile. Cause I’m an NCO and I’m telling you that you’re to go run up that hill, because it’s PT and that’s what you do. And since you have a profile you probably shouldn’t do anything. And that’s a lot of the reason why it got progressively worse and worse and worse and worse, and why I have my hips rubber-banded together, right now.

It started to heal and be fine. And so, they were giving me Cortisone shots in my hip. And that was supposed to help. And they gave me this other shot that’s supposed to enable your cartilage to grow stronger and back together. I don’t remember what that was called. But because I wouldn’t let the leg [heal] and had to do all this stuff—it wasn’t helping. So it got so bad that they just got everything out of my leg, and it’s now rubber-banded together.

When I hurt myself, I fell out of the back of a LMTV troop truck, which is probably about six or seven feet off the ground, give or take. I was in full battle-rattle, and I twisted while I fell, so it the force of the fall and everything caused some of my tendons and my cartilage to rip and be stretched out. And I didn’t think anything of it, I just thought I bruised myself really bad. But then the bruise went away and it still hurt really bad.

I went into the doctor, and they just said, “Oh, you have an internal bruise. You have a bone bruise.” And I was like, “Okay. I’ve had bone bruises before.” That’s fine, it’ll go away. But then I left AIT, because I was on the Air Force Base. And we didn’t have the Army medical, we had Air Force medical care, so we couldn’t get everything that we needed. And when I got here, I went in, and they were just like, “Oh, well, you have a hip sprain.” And I was like, “Okay.” And they were like, “Don’t run, don’t do this, don’t do this.”

It got progressively worse, and got to where sitting would kill me. I’d have to stand up. I couldn’t extend my leg out, at all. It was awful, awful problems. And then, I went to another doctor, because I had felt that the other doctor wasn’t taking all the proper steps. He said I had a hip sprain, but he didn’t take an x-ray, MRI, anything like that. He just poked it, and was like, “Oh, you have a hip sprain.” And I’m like, “Well, how do you know I have a hip sprain?”

Then I went to another doctor, and she’s like, “Well, I’m gonna send you to an x-ray, and I’m gonna send you to get an MRI.” And then, there was an arthrogram, where they inject glowy stuff into your joint, which hurt really bad. And they found out that my tendons and my cartilage were being ripped away. And then, instead of saying “Okay, we need to get this fixed,” she’s like, “Okay, we’re gonna give you shots, to start out with. And then we’re gonna send you to physical therapy.” And then it got to the point where you couldn’t touch from the middle of my back, all the way down, where your muscles connect, couldn’t touch it. If you just barely bumped into me, I would seize up, ’cause it hurt so bad. And it got worse and it got worse and got worse. And then, I went to that same doctor, and I was like, “Something’s not right. Physical therapy’s not helping, the shots aren’t helping.” I came back again, and it was gone. My joint was pretty much just [gone], like that. It was deteriorated pretty much all the way.

In 2009, I fell off the truck. I want to say it was around summer. I didn’t get an MRI until almost a year later. ‘Cause it was when everyone was deployed. So that’s why I didn’t deploy, because they were like, “Well, there’s this problem with your hip, and you can’t carry”—that’s like, the one time my profile was respected, was when like, “Oh, you can’t deploy because you can’t carry anything.”

…I had to get counseled and all that, and go to a specialist. I don’t trust Army doctors. So I went off post and made sure that’s what was going on before they sliced my leg open, so they couldn’t be like, “Oh, that isn’t the problem, but now you’re gonna have rubber bands in your leg.” ‘Cause I mean, before, they thought I had spinal meningitis, and they took a spinal tap on me, and I didn’t have spinal meningitis, I was just really sick.

I don’t trust doctors at all. I don’t know if this is true, but I have been told by numerous people, is that the Army hires civilian doctors that have lost their license elsewhere. And I’ve heard that from NCOs… My grandma, she’s a nurse. And I’m like, “Grandma, what is,” and my grandma will be like, “No, that’s not right. Why would they give you that to treat that?”

My [Army] doctor, she was really good. You could go in there and “Oh, I had a fever yesterday. I still have a fever.” And she’d be like, “Okay, you’re not going to work today.” But then, other doctors will be like, “Oh, you have a fever,” or, “Oh, you’re coughing up blood? You’re fine.” Just take this prescription, you’ll be fine. I had a doctor before I had my good one and I had bronchitis and I couldn’t breathe, I had a fever and he still made me go to work. And I got in trouble for falling asleep at work, ’cause the medicine he gave me made me fall asleep. And I have chronic bronchitis now.

Some doctors’ll be like, “Yeah, you don’t need to be doing this, you don’t need to be doing this, you don’t need to be doing this, because it’s not gonna help.” And then, other doctors are like, “Oh yeah! You can do that! It’ll be fine.” And then it’s not okay, and it doesn’t help. It’s not like they’re all on the same page, it’s not like they all talk to each other before, [or] like they have the same operating procedure as everyone else.

I had Vicodin and the 800mg Motrin. That’s pretty much it. And then Cortisone shots, ’cause it has pain killer in it.

I got a profile when I first got here, when I was in reception. Because I told them, “Hey, my previous unit told me that when I got here I needed to get a profile, because my profile wouldn’t carry over, because it was from an Air Force base, and an Air Force doctor.” So I had to go to Darnall and get a new one. And then, I had that, and then they would push the limits of my profile. Which they shouldn’t do. Like, “Well, it says you can do this.” But like, when I’m on a profile, say, “No running, no…” you know, “Can you carry this, can you do this? Can you do this?” And then [the profile] has a remarks block, and it’ll say, “Is not recommended,” like, “Yeah, she can do it, but it’s not recommended that she does.”

I wasn’t supposed to put pressure on my legs, so I couldn’t do push-ups, I couldn’t do sit-ups, I couldn’t do anything. And so they would be like, “Oh, so you can do push-ups on your knees.” No, that still puts pressure on my hips. And they’d be like, “Oh, no, you can do that, you’ll be fine.”

So, there was a lot of that that I had to deal with, pushing the limits of your profile, and then they wonder why their soldiers are still hurt and still not combat-ready. If you push the limits of my profile, I’m not gonna get better. And I understand there’s a lot of people that just get profiles because they don’t want to do it. But you have to think what if the soldier really does have a problem? And I did really have a problem. I had brought in all my x-rays and everything, to my first sergeant. And I was like, “Look, this is my leg, this is what’s going on.” And he was like, “Oh, well, you can still do this, you can still do this.” It’s like, “No, I can’t.”

Every unit has a medical team, an aid station where all our medics work. We also have a thing called MEDPROS, and if you need to go to the dentist, it’ll be like, “Okay, your medical readiness is Red, because you need to go to the dentist,” or you need your hearing done, or you need to go get your HIV test done, or anything like that. It will say online. And all our profiles go through them anyway. So why not have an actual medical officer decide whether or not?

I know there’s a lot of people in a whole battalion, but I think it’d be a more helpful way than to have commanders and first sergeants that are just like, “No, she’s faking!” Or, “No, he’s faking,” and when they actually have a problem and you let the actual medical officer sit and be like, “Oh, well, they’re doing this, and they’re doing this.”

I don’t know [if people know about MEDCEN-01]. My roommate, he has a lot mental issues. He got sent to the fifth floor of Darnall for a week, last week. I was with his wife, it was awful. But they seemed to be pretty good about recognizing his profile. He can’t be around weapons, ammo. He can’t drive military vehicles, anything you know, sharp, he can’t be around it at all, ’cause he threatened his first sergeant because he has a lot of stuff going on. And they seemed to respect his profile pretty well.

I’ve heard him saying that some of his NCOs are like, “Oh, you’re just being a blah-blah-blah-blah, suck it up.” And he’d be like, “Nope. Excuse me,” and get them in trouble. So I think it just depends on the unit. III Corps is pretty bad. You have, I want to say, 90 days of recovery to get back to where you were, to where you’re supposed to be. It’s profile recovery. And they don’t respect that either, and that’s how people get reinjured because they want to push themselves, because their first sergeant’s like, “Oh, you don’t have a profile anymore,” but I’m like, “Well, I’m on profile recovery. I can’t just pick up and run two miles.”

And that’s one thing they don’t recognize. But I think it just depends on the unit. ‘Cause I know III Corps is really bad about it, but my roommate, he’s in—I want to say 1-7 Cav. And they seem to do really good with him, and one of his best friends that he deployed with.
Editor’s Note: Kimberly was asked what she thought it would take for MEDCEN-01 to be enforced at Fort Hood.

I don’t know—I think the Army’s just like, “Oh, we’ll just give ’em a class on it and it’s gonna work.” Well, obviously not, because if you’re gonna be a commander, you’re gonna have to go to whatever commanders have to do. And it’s not gonna stick with you.

I really think that they just need to make an example. I know that’s really awful to say. But I think to get the message out, “Well this commander got his position taken away as a company commander because of blah, blah, blah,” and, “This commander did this, blah blah blah.” Because people are gonna be like, “Shit, well, I don’t want that to happen to me.” ‘Cause if you command a company, I think you get paid more. Money talks.

I’ve had more than one soldier come in and say this commander has been doing this and this, and I think lower enlisted soldiers need to learn too that they can go to IG whenever they want. They don’t have to have a commander’s permission, they don’t have to have a first sergeant’s permission. They don’t have to have their first line permission, you can just go to IG, and if anyone calls and asks you where are, and you say, “I’m at IG,” they can’t be like, “Oh, well, you need to get back here.”

I know that there’s town hall meetings. I’ve never been to one, but it’s where the CG and the post sergeant major talk about issues. And I think that they need to have meetings with just lower enlisted. ‘Cause town hall meetings are spouses and everyone. And I think there need to be meetings, like census groups, you could say, with lower enlisted soldiers, to say, “Hey this is a problem, and it needs to get fixed.” And have the CGC that is a problem, ’cause I know that some people have called in on these CG meetings, especially for like, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and ask what the CG’s doing to stop acts of hate and acts of violence. And he didn’t answer the question.

Editor’s Note: The interview returned to the issues Kimberly experienced with being on profile. She began by describing the exact work restrictions detailed in her profile.

I can’t run, I couldn’t do sit-ups, I couldn’t carry a weapon, I couldn’t wear anything over 25 pounds. So even if I took the plates out of my OTV, I still couldn’t wear it, ’cause it weighs over 25 pounds without the plates in it. Couldn’t carry a ruck-sack. Only thing I think I could wear out of my gear was the kevlar and a gas mask, ’cause they’re light. I couldn’t swim, I couldn’t bike, I wasn’t supposed to walk up stairs. I wasn’t even supposed to walk.

That’s another thing too, ’cause on a profile, it’ll say, “Walk at your own pace and distance.” Okay, that’s my pace, and my distance. It’s not what sergeant Joe Schmo says, “Okay, you gotta walk to there.” If I start hurting before I get to there, I’m gonna stop, because my profile says at my own pace and my own distance, not what your NCO says. And I think that’s something that needs to be put out too, because I’ve heard many people say, “I need to run or walk at my own pace and distance. And if you can only run like, let’s say two blocks. And that was pushing yourself? Fine.” It shouldn’t be a problem. That’s a big problem that I’ve heard of.

I had that problem when I got off my surgery recovery, I was getting in trouble because I’d step out of the formation. I’d still run, but I couldn’t keep the pace with them. And they’d yell at me and say that I’m shamming, and that I’m not trying. And I’m like, “No, I can’t do that.” And like, “Look, I’m still running! Still running!” Just not the four minute mile pace that you are. You know, so like, “Oh, you can’t run sprints. Well that’s the pace and distance we’re going to.” Well, I can’t run sprints.

That’s why they need to be an actual medical officer [to interpret profiles]. Even every company having a medic, or a medical officer would be helpful. ‘Cause I know III Corps has a crap-ton of medical officers and medics that can read a profile, and just as well as an officer can.

I had some problems with [profile re-evaluations] sometimes with some NCOs. I had one NCO, he was really good about it. He’d ask how I was feeling, he’d actually take time. I think he cared ’cause he had a lot of medical issues. I think he had brain cancer. He’d always come check on me. And I had other NCOs be like, “Oh, you’re fine. You don’t need to go on another profile. You’re just riding your profile.” Like, no, my leg might fall off. But I didn’t really have a problem ever going to get re-evaluated, until my unit got back from Iraq, and it was like, “Oh, I stayed behind ’cause I was getting chaptered,” “Oh, I stayed behind because I was overweight,” and all this stuff. And I was like, “No! That’s not why I stayed behind. I stayed behind because my hips are all messed up.”

One of my friends, he found out that he had AIDS. And he’s in the Army. And no one knew. And he confided in one of his good friends in his unit, and then his whole unit knew. And he didn’t want anyone to know. He didn’t even want his close friends to know, until he told one of his friends in his unit, who then spread it to everyone else’s unit. And it was awful for him. Because he was like, “Now no one wants to be around me. Now everyone’s afraid I’m gonna get sick.” And I’m just like, “I don’t even know what to tell you.” People are jerks.

They make you feel like crap [if you’re on profile], pretty much. They call you weak, they say, “Oh, you’re malingering.” Or, “You’re just being lazy,” “You shouldn’t be in the Army,” “You’re a terrible soldier. This is a general soldiering task, you should be able to run two miles just fine.” My first sergeant would always say it. And some of the NCOs that didn’t know me personally, and didn’t know the issues that I had, or weren’t directly in my chain of command, but were just NCOs that were directing PT. And I’d be like, “Look, I can’t do this.” And they’d be like, “Let me see your profile!” And I’d take my profile, unfold it and give it to them, and they’d be like, “Well, it says you can do this, and blah blah blah. So you’re gonna be fine. It says run at your own pace and distance, or it says that it’s not recommended that you do something, but it’s gonna be fine, you can do it anyway.”

And they’d be like, “Do it ’til it hurts.” And I’d be like, “Okay, I can do that.” And then as soon as I’d do maybe five push-ups I’d be like, “Okay, I can’t do this anymore.” And stand up and start doing overhead arm claps or something to work my upper body. And, “Why did you stop?! Why did you stop?!” And he’ll get in your face and yell at you, and tell you that you’re crap, and that you’re worthless, and how you shouldn’t be in the Army. Just all kinds of negative stuff that shouldn’t be said to people.

They wonder why people snap, and why people get in trouble with their NCOs, and why people punch the shit out of their NCOs. Because they get in your face. It’s one thing to be a drill sergeant, ’cause that’s your job, to get in people’s face. Just to be a regular NCO, you’re supposed to be there to help and support your soldiers. I think it’s the second or third line in the NCO Creed, that says that you’re supposed to be there for your soldiers, and they just overlook it, completely.

There’s a lot of NCOs that are on profile also. And they tend to be the ones that are like, “Okay. What can you do?” Not telling you, “You can do this,” but, “What do you feel comfortable and okay with doing?” Because those are usually the ones that have profiles that understand. And there’s NCOs that’ll be like, “Oh, well, she can’t do this.” And it’ll circulate to another NCO, “She’s just not trying. She doesn’t want to try.” And it’ll just get passed NCO to NCO to NCO, and no one stops to say, “Okay, maybe she’s really hurt.”

It makes you look really bad, because of a rumor circulating about you that you’re just not trying, or you’re being labeled because you’re being a crappy soldier. And it shouldn’t be like that.

But the thing about lower enlisted is we really don’t care. We’ll be like, “Oh, it’s just an NCO saying something.” ‘Cause stuff does happen. You don’t hear about NCOs messing with other NCOs that much. You hear about NCOs messing with lower enlisted. So it’s kind of like, “Well, it’s just an NCO saying something.” There’s skepticism.

Editor’s Note: Kimberly also reflected on whether the stigma for being on profile affects other soldiers’ decisions to seek care.

I think that does a lot. A guy in my unit, he pretty much had the same thing happen to him that happened to me, and he is younger than I am and has to walk with a cane. Because he didn’t go get help, because it’s always frowned upon. They can’t stop you from going, but it makes you look like a shitbag, is what they tell you. And he has to walk with a cane now, because he pushed himself, pushed himself, pushed himself, pushed himself, even though he shouldn’t have.

Mine could’ve been a lot worse than what it is now. ‘Cause his is like, completely gone, grinded down and everything. Because he kept pushing himself. Because you don’t want to be “that soldier.” You don’t want to be like, “Oh, I’m hurt, oh.” ‘Cause I’m sure there are people that do fake it. I can’t say for sure, because I’ve never met one, a person who’s going to fake having a profile. But I’m sure that they’re out there. Because if not, it wouldn’t be a problem like it is, with people that are genuinely hurt. And they’re made to feel like if they go get help, they’re not gonna be treated the same.

Every ten years, I have to go get a new rubber band put in. So when I turn 30, I’ll have to go get my leg re-cut open, and have a rubber band, and my pins tightened. It doesn’t bug me anymore, ’cause it’s just like having regular tendons and whatever, it works just the same. But I think in the long run, like when I get older, like in my 60s or 70s, that it’s gonna definitely bother me. I already have arthritis in my hip because of it, because of where it was touching. I foresee that being a problem, and me having a lot of hip problems when I’m older. And probably having to get my hip replaced.

I did go through SRP. They gave me VOA shots, and Station 13 decides whether you deploy or not. And the lady was like, “Do you feel like you can deploy?” She asked me. She was a major and she was a medical officer. And instead of just looking at my profile and saying, “She shouldn’t deploy, I’m not gonna mark you to deploy,” she asked me, “Do you feel like you can deploy?”

It says on my profile that I was non-deployable. But she was like, “Oh, do you feel like you can deploy? I can change it.” Like, really? No! If my profile says I’m not supposed to deploy, I’m not gonna deploy. And then, my friend, she has epilepsy, and they deployed her. I believe when she was over there she had a few seizures, and they didn’t send her back.

Definitely back here [there have been suicides]. Recent things have happened. And one of my friends died from taking the medicine that he was prescribed—not overdosing on it, but taking the recommended dose. And it killed him.

I’m very good friends with his family. And I’m sure they wouldn’t lie and be like, “Oh, he was overdosing,” or whatever, I don’t see it being like that… It [was] a type of medicine that has morphine in it, I want to say. And it killed him—the prescribed amount was too much for his body.

…We didn’t have briefings [on PTSD] per se. We had to go online and take these little class things and print out these certificates. You could just skip through it all. And say, “Oh yeah, I did it.” And you wouldn’t know anything about it.

So I think there needs to be an actual sit-down brief, during a safety stand-down. ‘Cause during safety stand-down, we always do the same thing. It’s like, whatever ‘season’ it is safety, and spouse abuse—it is a big deal, but we shouldn’t have a class on it like, every single time.

For PTSD, I definitely think there needs to be more classes on that. My dad’s been out of the military for almost as long as I’ve been alive. And he didn’t get help until last year. ‘Cause he didn’t think he had a problem. You know, throwing my mom through a coffee table, or throwing my brother down the stairs ’cause he came around the corner too quick, or driving at night, or anything like that. He didn’t think he had a problem, until he went and got help. ‘Cause I was like, “Dad, you need help.”

It was my mom, and my grandpa and me, we all had a conference call with him—’cause I live here, and they live far away. And I was like, “Dad, you’re gonna end up hurting either yourself or mom or my brother, or someone else really bad.” ‘Cause that’s the way he was trained. [He was] Marine Special Forces. So he would really hurt someone, really bad. And he could probably kill someone, if he were having some kind of dream, or if you freaked out for no reason, he could really hurt someone. He clearly has PTSD, and you can’t use it as an excuse, ’cause you don’t have documented care. ‘Cause I’ve heard it on the news, and they’re saying, “Oh, I killed this person ’cause I had PTSD,” but they have no records of them going to talk to people about it, or them deploying, or anything like that…

There’s people who have deployed multiple times…another one of my friends, he deployed with some unit out of Fort Riley. He got shot, and he’ll have his little moments, and I don’t know really know how to handle it, but just be there for [him]. But a lot of people have deployed more than once. And a lot of people, they’ll have issues with their first deployment, but not their second one, or going back makes it worse. I guess it just varies depending on who you talk to about it.

…One of my friends, he got shot out of a humvee during an IED explosion, on his truck in Iraq. And he’ll be talking to me like we’re talking right now, and he’ll cut out completely, like you’re not even here. He’ll be like, “What?” And it won’t be just for a second. He’s gone like, ten minutes, where you’re just like, “Eric,* Eric.” And he’ll just sit there and stare at you. His brain just shuts off completely. He is [still active duty]. And then, one of my other friends during JROTC, which is where you go for pre-deployment training, he got thrown 50 feet from an MRAB, because the people that were driving it were not licensed to drive it. And he got thrown out of the turret 50 feet, and landed on his head. And the same thing happened to him, he’ll just randomly black out.

I don’t know about Rich* but I know Eric takes medicine that’s supposed to help his brain activity stay [up]—’cause his brain will just flat-line. ‘Cause the way he landed cut off regular blood flow to his brain, or something. Rich got hurt before deployment. Not only did he hit his head, but he broke his leg in three places, broke all of his ribs on one side, all kinds of craziness happened to him.

He deployed, again. He just got back early last year.

…We receive training on [MST] all the time—SHARP training, Sexual Harassment Assault Rape Prevention, or something like that. And then, the ACT campaign, is the “I am Strong:” Intervene, Act, Motivate, which is a lot of the thing too, especially with my friend, where they said, “Well, if you hadn’t gotten drunk, you wouldn’t have gotten raped.” That doesn’t make people want to go get help.

I’ve heard of people being assaulted or whatever, that didn’t tell anyone. And then the victim advocate or the command team, they’re not supposed to say anything—that’s why, with restricted reporting, no one knows except you, and your commander, and your first sergeant, and the advocate, and the nurse at the hospital. And then you go ask the person like, “Hey, this is going around. Are you okay?” And they’re like, “How’d you find out?”

I think [sexual violence] is very prevalent. ‘Cause just in my unit, there have been at least six or seven people being raped or assaulted, where they’re having their rooms get broken into—it’s never happened to me, but there have been people in my unit that it’s happened–not out in town, but in the barracks. [Once it] happened to a man, by a girl. But most other times it’s just guy on girl.

One of my very, very close friends was raped by someone in our barracks. And they kept him in the barracks. They didn’t send him to jail. They didn’t do anything like that. They kept him in the barracks. So every time she saw him in the barracks she’d just freeze, and I’d be like, “What’s wrong?” And then I’d look around, and be like, “Oh.” And she’d just stand there and freeze.

I don’t think that’s right. Regardless if it was a lie or if the person is lying, or you didn’t rape them, or you did rape them, or whatever, you should not be in the same building complex, living in the same place. They should at least move you. They didn’t even detain him at all. They still haven’t, at all. And it’s been like, six months, and he still lives down the hall from her.

I know that some other people that have been not raped, but assaulted, who have had to go to work with the person who assaulted them. I understand that you can’t just move someone from a unit, which takes a while. They can’t just be like, “Oh, well, you’re gonna go here today.” It doesn’t work like that. There’s a lot of paperwork that has to be done. But at least don’t make them work together. At least say, “Oh, well, if he’s gonna be here, then she needs to be doing whatever, away from him.

But keeping them in the same building is wrong—and I know that they can move you whenever the hell they want. Even if it’s not out of the same building, but up a floor, or down a floor, or across the other side, something. But he literally lived four doors down from her, in the barracks.

I think people need to actually get prosecuted in a timely manner—the investigation is still going on for this, and it’s been seven months. And it’s still going on. It needs to be a quicker process, so people can see like, “If I do this, I’m not gonna get away with it.” I’m pretty sure that’s how he feels about it. Because he hasn’t gotten in trouble, he hasn’t gotten reprimanded. He didn’t go to jail, he didn’t get his rank taken. It’s like, “Oh, you raped someone?” Slap on the wrist.

I know that there are groups available out there [for survivors]. But the thing is I believe it’s command-referred. So if your command doesn’t feel that you need to go, you’re not gonna go.

…Not just PTSD, but if you get your arm blown off or your leg blown off, or your face burnt, or something like that, people are going to be like, “Oh, well, I can see that you have trauma. I can see you need help.” And I think that [MST] is not taken as seriously, because people are like, “Oh, you’re just making it up.” A lot of the thing is that his friends—the guy that raped my friend—say, “Oh, he wouldn’t do that, he wouldn’t do that. She’s lying.”

Editor’s Note: Kimberly also shared reflections on how she thinks the drawdown is affecting soldier health care.

One of my NCOs, he tore something in his knee and he was supposed to go back and get it further repaired, ’cause I guess he tore it so bad that they had to do it in increments. And he hasn’t gone back, ’cause he’s scared that they’re gonna kick him out because of his knee. So he just hobbles around all day and acts like everything’s fine, but the lower part of his leg is still injured, but his upper part of his knee is okay. So he won’t go back and get help because he’s scared that they’re gonna kick him out because so many people aren’t eligible for re-enlistment right now.

I was chaptered out before I was supposed to be ETS-ed. I was supposed to ETS in September of this year. My chapter date was the 11th of April. And I got chaptered out because I had issues with some finances, and I had been to jail in Killeen. I was punished by civilian court, meaning that the military could not punish me. It’s not on my record anymore. You could look it up, it’s not gonna exist anywhere, it was expunged off my record, and they still tried to chapter me out on it. And it clearly worked. Because I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you if it didn’t.

I feel that there needs to be a process that one goes through—and I know that there is a process instilled, that is just overlooked. ‘Cause it’s supposed to be, you do one thing wrong, you get a verbal punishment. Second thing you do wrong, you do corrective training. Third thing, you get counseling. Fourth thing, you get a recommendation for Article 15, which can be anything from getting your pay taken, your rank taken, to just having extra duty. And then, it should be recommendation for separation. Mine went, you got counseling statement for not paying your bills, and there was no sending me to get help for my finances. There was no, “Well, you got this counseling, we’re going to send you to go to the Financial Specialist, make you a budget. Do all this stuff to help you, so you don’t have this issue.” No, it was just, “Here’s the counseling, pay your bills.”

I was told they couldn’t chapter me out, because I went to jail—I took someone to Wal-Mart, she stole, and because I drove her there, I was an accomplice. I had probation for nine months. Finished everything fine, and it got taken off my record. And I was like, “Look. They can’t punish me on this, because I was punished on the civilian side.” So that would be double jeopardy, you’d be punished twice for something. And so I got chaptered out on it.

I’m not saying I was the best soldier ever. But I was a pretty good like, “Okay, that’s what you want me to do, I’ll go do it, and get it done in a timely manner.” Not sit around and take my sweet ass time doing it. But I mean, there could have been a lot more steps taken before just chaptering me out.

I think that they were just honestly trying to get me out—it’d be a lot easier to chapter me out on those issues than chapter me out over my weight. I’m not that much overweight, but because I can’t run or anything ’cause of my profile. And the way I’m built, I have to run, I can’t just lift weights or do whatever to stay in shape, I have to do cardio.

I was put on a diet and I did what I could. And I wouldn’t just be like, “Oh, I’m done. I did what I could.” No. I’d really, really apply myself to what I was doing. And I think they couldn’t chapter me out, ’cause when you’re overweight, they put you on a program that you have to lose three to five pounds a month, and I was doing all that just fine. So I think that’s why they took the other route instead.

One of my close friends, they’re talking about chaptering him out on a chapter 10. Because they’re saying that because he is—and this is honest, I was there for the whole situation—because he is gay. This really, really homophobic dude, that everyone knows he’s a homophobe, went up and touched him, but didn’t touch him inappropriately. Like on the shoulder, he was just like, “Hey, man,” and talking to him or whatever. We’re all drinking, and everything. But he said that Jenkins* had put his hand down his pants and was doing whatever. And that did not happen, at all.

And everyone’s like, “Well, yeah Jenkins is gay, so it happened,” pretty much, is what everyone has gathered from the situation. ‘Cause there’s more than one person that was there that said, “No, that did not happen. That did not happen at all.” And I really think it’s because he’s gay. I think that’s a terrible stigma that definitely needs to be taken care of. And I know that a lot of people in the Army aren’t ready for openly gay people. But that never happened. They’re trying to chapter him out on assaulting someone, which did not happen at all.

This happened maybe two or three months ago. And that’s how quickly it progressed. And that’s another thing, all my friends talk about why one friend got raped, and her case is taking so long. And he’s gay and this really homophobic dude said that Ian was playing with him or whatever, which never happened, and it’s snap, like that.

Editor’s Note: Kimberly was asked if she had seen soldiers discharged for behaviors caused by their trauma or mental health.

I have. Actually, one of my other really good friends, something really bad happened to him while he was deployed. He was in a group of Iraqis and someone threw a grenade. And it killed almost everyone else in his platoon and only him and three other people lived. And someone just threw a grenade into this huge crowd of people. And so, when he gets in a large group of people and it’s really loud and there’s a lot of talking, it freaks him out.

And he freaked out and just started beating the shit out of people. And he happened to beat the shit out of his first sergeant, ’cause the first sergeant got in his face. And Simon* is NOT a little person at all, he’s like, 6’7″ and 350 pounds. He’s a huge, huge guy. And started beating the crap out of people. And they chaptered him out for assaulting an officer and a senior non-commissioned officer. And when he calmed down, he didn’t remember what happened. He’s like, “I don’t remember. What happened? Why am I in this office, sitting in this chair? Why am I handcuffed?” No idea what happened.

My friend, he has sleep issues and he’s been late for formation x-amount of times. And they are chaptering him out for being late constantly. Because he falls asleep. He doesn’t sleep a lot, but when he falls asleep, he’s out.

I haven’t had a lot of trouble [getting a job]. My discharge was a chapter 14-12, which is Patterns of Misconduct. But I got a general discharge. It doesn’t matter what chapter number you got, it’s what characterization of chapter you got. ‘Cause I got a general, and I get everything but school. In six months I can go and try to get my school benefits, and that’s it.

One of my friends that got thrown from the MRAB, he doesn’t do anything but sit at home and smoke pot, and live off his parents. But my friend that beat the crap out of everyone, he makes $150,000 a year working on an oil rig. [Job prospects] just vary case-to-case, and how the person is, or the severity of their issues.

Editor’s Note: Kimberly continued by sharing her thoughts on what it is like to be a service-woman, whether there is pressure to be as ‘tough’ as men and if that affects their ability to seek medical care.

I’m not in a combat MOS, but I know people that are in, not necessarily combat MOSs, but combat units, like Cav or like 3rd ACR, that the guys complain all the time that like, “Oh, well, your PT standards aren’t as high as ours,” or, “You’re not as tough as us.”

I didn’t have this problem in my unit, ’cause my company was military intelligence, so there was no like, “Oh, you’re not strong enough.” It was all your mind. And I do think that women in 3rd ACR or Cav or combat units do have a lot more pressure on them to be extra extra hoo-ah. And to not be like, “Oh, I’m a girl, I can’t do this.” And, “I don’t want to go get a profile, because it’s gonna make me look weak.” And they’re like, “Oh, well, she’s a girl,” blah blah blah blah blah. I have heard about that happening to people.

…The majority of my friends are gay, and I’m very, very supportive of them. And I’ve been asked to leave places because people run their mouths about how it’s an abomination, or it’s a sin, and I’m gonna go to hell for supporting it. And I’m like, “Whoa. You need to get out of my face. You know nothing.”

There is a lot of homophobia. But I’m definitely a very big supporter, I believe they should have the exact same rights as everyone else should. They’re just people, they’re not gonna cough on you and you’re not gonna turn gay ’cause they coughed on you. I’ve heard that. Like, “Oh, I don’t want to be around him, ’cause if he coughs on me I’m gonna get the gay.” I’ve been around gay people for many, many years, and been coughed on by them plenty of times, and I’m not gay. I’m pretty sure it’s okay.

I think that when you have to get command referral for something, and one of the first sergeants in my battalion, he’s like super holy-crap Jesus. When he has training meetings, he’ll pray first. I’m just like, “Whoa. Take it down a notch.” Like, I’m all for Jesus and whatever, but you’re up here, you need to be down here. But I definitely think that if your command team does know that you’re gay or lesbian, that they’re gonna look at you differently. To say, “Well, you don’t need this because I don’t feel that you’re a good person.” And I think that’s a big problem.

Editor’s Note: In wrapping up the interview, Kimberly spoke about what she thinks it would take to get soldiers the care they deserve and win the right to heal.

I think a lot [needs to change]. Like I said, people need to be made an example of. And I know that sounds really mean and vindictive, but I think it needs to be done. People definitely need to start losing their jobs. That’s now how people are not supposed to be treated. Not just soldiers, but people, in general, are not supposed to be treated that way. I definitely think that people need to be made an example of, and make it known that these people have had their jobs taken away. Not just word of mouth, but have a meeting. Like, a slideshow presentation and pictures, and this is what they did, this is what they lost. People just hear it, and they’re gonna be like, ‘La, la, la,’ but if people see it, and see the consequences along with it, that would definitely help a lot.

Let people know that IG is always an option, you do not have to have commander permission, you do not have to have first sergeant, and no one has to know you were there. They’re the ones that get people fired. Their office is on the first floor of the Corps building, in the East side. It’s like the third, fourth door on the left. But you do not have to go through anyone to get to them—and the more people you have to go with you, to verify your story, to say that this shit’s going on, and it’s not okay, the better off you will be.

 

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