T Nation

Can It Get Sadder?


#1

http://www.wvgazette.com/static/stories/2006020719.html

February 08, 2006
Army blasted over soldier?s body armor
Sympathizers raise nearly $6,000 to repay Army for missing item

By Eric Eyre
Staff writer

West Virginia?s two U.S. senators asked top military leaders Tuesday to explain why 1st Lt. William ?Eddie? Rebrook IV had to reimburse the U.S. Army $700 last week for body armor and other gear damaged after he was seriously wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

More than 200 people ?from West Virginia and across the country ? donated more than $5,700 to Rebrook after reading about his body armor payment to the Army.

Rebrook, 25, who was medically discharged from an army base in Fort Hood, Texas, last week, said he wouldn?t keep the donations. He?s passing along the money to charity and a Louisiana woman who lost her home in Hurricane Katrina. He said the woman?s son helped save his life in Iraq.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Tuesday, demanding that the Army refund Rebrook?s money immediately.

?I was outraged this morning when I read the story about what happened to Eddie,? said Rockefeller, who nominated Rebrook for admission to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., when Rebrook attended George Washington High School in Charleston. ?I?m heartbroken that he can?t continue his career, and I?m shocked that he has been treated this way by our military.?

At a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., asked why Rebrook was forced to pay for body armor damaged when he was wounded in Iraq.

?How can it be that the Army is charging wounded soldiers for replacing damaged body armor? Is this standard practice?? Byrd asked during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Department of Defense?s 2007 budget.

Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army?s chief of staff, attended the hearing.

?That is a very unusual story,? Schoomaker responded. ?I have no idea why we would ever do something like that. We have issued body armor, the very best that exists in the world. Every soldier has it.

?We certainly have procedures that account for battle loss, and I just find it a highly unusual story. But we?ll certainly follow up and correct it if there?s any truth to it.?

?First Cavalry Division leadership is going to do everything to ensure this issue is brought to a conclusion that is both in line with procedures that apply to all its soldiers and in the best interest of our veterans who have served so proudly and honorably in Iraq,? Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, the division's spokesman at Fort Hood, told the Killeen Daily Herald for today?s edition.

Bleichwehl said soldiers are not held financially responsible for any equipment lost, damaged or destroyed in combat.

Rebrook said he borrowed $700 from his buddies to pay back the U.S. Army for the destroyed body armor and gear. He plans to pay them back out of his own pocket.

A Charleston radio station, WKWS-FM 96.1, raised $700 for Rebrook in less than an hour Tuesday morning. One woman hand-delivered a check for $350 to the radio station Tuesday.

?We read the story on the air, and the phones started ringing,? said the station?s Mike Fitzgerald.

The bulk of money for Rebrook was raised Tuesday after the soldier?s story was posted on americablog.com, a popular liberal political blog.

Donations ranged from $1 to $400, said John Aravosis, who runs the Internet blog. More than 187 people gave money. About 200 people posted to the blog.

?Everybody thinks liberals hate soldiers,? Aravosis said. ?But the majority of people get that it?s not right to abuse our troops.?

Rebrook?s right arm was shattered in an explosion while he was standing in the turret of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle in January 2005. Field medics removed his body armor, and it was later incinerated, Rebrook said. A Black Hawk helicopter airlifted him to a combat support hospital in Baghdad.

Rebrook, who graduated with honors from West Point, said he was never given any records that documented the body armor loss.

When he turned in his gear last week, Rebrook said he was told to pay nearly $700 or face not being discharged for weeks. The bill included a $570 charge for his Kevlar vest and gear destroyed in battle, and $130 for other lost items.

Rebrook said he was asked to provide statements from witnesses that he lost his body armor in battle.

He said he thought he could write a memo, explaining that the body armor was stripped from him after he was injured. But that wasn?t sufficient, he learned last week.

?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.?

Dozens of Charleston Gazette readers called the newspaper and sent e-mails, criticizing the Army and praising Rebrook for his service in Iraq. Some readers offered to pay Rebrook for the entire cost of his body armor.

?It?s a disgrace to humanity for our military to do that to a young boy who graduated from West Point,? said William Crouch of St. Albans. ?I?m so mad now I can?t stand it.?


#2

What the fuck. Thats the most fucked up thing I've ever heard, or close to it at least.

Whats next? Your parents having to pay for your military burial? Jesus.


#3

Fuck that shit, that's gay.

Though, I'm sure someone will come along and claim that "he knew what he was getting into when he signed up!"


#4

Here is where the problem lies. I'm stationed at Ft Hood, the second time in my career. There is the Central Issue Facility which issues military gear to the soldiers, including the body armor, and the facility is ran by DynCorp, a contracted business. On any given day, that place is a cluster fuck to the 20th power.

They will try to issue people fucked up geat, which you obviously would not be able to turn in later on when you got out of the Army or changed duty stations. I had to buy a new sleeping mat once, because the one I turned in was "too dirty" after I washed the motherfucker for hours on end trying to get some discoloration out.

You know, the kind you get from using the motherfucker for what it was meant for for several straight years. The companies that we contract are greedy bitches. They hire people for low wages, treat them like shit, and those people pass on the favor to us.

In the case of that lieutenant, his unit didn't take the right action in reporting combat losses, so he had to take that dick right in the corn-hole. It happens too often. If my HMMWV had gotten blown up, I would have had to account for nearly a million dollars worth of shit.

Check this shit out. You can drag a HMMWV into camp, burning. You can set that thing out where everyone will see it, and unless you file the papers to record it as battle loss, the person responsible for it could be held financially liable.

Even if that dude burned up inside it. So, if that dude was wearing night vision and it was lost in the explosion, he could have been made to pay for it along with his body armor, goggles, and kevlar panels. It's a cumbersome Army that we are all still trying to get streamlined.


#5

That situation is disgusting, it makes me feel so angry knowing how brave people are treated by these money counters, it truly disgusts me.


#6

CNN has this story today. http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/02/08/soldier.payment/index.html

He is being repaid.


#7

It's not that it's contracted out. Supply, as a rule, is SNAFU'd 98% of the time, no matter where you go. The same kind of cleaning crap happened to me with rain gear, sleeping bags, etc. Come to think of it, it's also happened with apartments with a cobweb in the corner. So what?

Paperwork getting hosed in a huge bureaucracy? You don't say!

It's real simple: this guy's top kick and company commander farked something up, or didn't pay enough attention when transferring duty status/station, etc. His unit of record or transition unit (medical in Germany or WRAMC) may have screwed something up. The poor guy is a 1st LT, which means he still isn't sure on who he has to talk to and how to make sure his butt is covered. No, it's not something he should have to think about, but neither is watching for red light runners. It's covering your ass.


#8

Very good point, lsu. It's pretty fucked up. Wonder how many people have gotten the shaft in this manner.


#9

Man that is just WRONG.

This is the wrong way to treat your soldiers, or anyone for that matter. Those cheap bastards.

Stuff like this is what contributes to anti-American behaviour and it isn't fair. It's not the American people, but greedy companies like this ... the way they screw over their own soldiers, imagine how they screw over others.

I don't know how you guys can take it. One day congradulating soldiers on their fine efforts, next day reducing veteran pensions.

But this armour incident just takes the cake. The guy deserves a medal and a bonus FFS not a bill.

I bet if you did a survey, 98.5% of Americans would say that is just completely WRONG. Who the heck are the 1.5% who think it is right that are letting this happen?

Is there ANYONE reading this forum that thinks the soldier should pay for this?


#10

Why does he have to repay something that our tax dollars supposidly have already paid for?


#11

Typical bureaucratic bullshit.


#12

The idea is to discourage guys from stealing this stuff and selling it.

Making someone responsible is a good idea but some asshole paperpusher takes it too far.


#13

Well it is important to stop people stealing stuff but there should be in place an automatic system to cover anyone who is injured especially if they cannot hang around for the paperwork.

And some of the other gear sounds a bit of a crappy deal.


#14

Magarhe, yeah, it'd be nice to impregnate everything with RFID and built in sensors, so when when your boot soles wore down too much, they'd order you a new pair next time you walked on base, too.

You can have stuff stolen, the perps caught and sent to trial by civillian cops, and you're still going to have to pay for it. Them's the rules.

As bad as the system is, it's something that has to be lived with. It's a people intensive process, and always will be, given the nature of the organization and environment. The more people are involved in any given process, the more controls have to be instituted to avoid material risk (ie, paperwork).

This is what bureaucracy and government does, so everyone keep voting for more, mkay?