This is the third installation to the list of questions I wrote about in an earlier post. My friend had specifically asked me about injury or illness. We have all heard about the barracks creeping crud. It’s the infamous upper respiratory infection that seems to go around when you squeeze a ton of guys into cramped living quarters and work them to the point of exhaustion mixed with high stress. Mind you, we understand why it’s done, but wives, mothers, and girlfriends are going to worry. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
I want to caveat this with a new question that arose the other day. I got a call and was told “He asked me to send him his multivitamins and his vitamin C. Should I send it?” To which I emphatically replied “Absolutely, positively, NO way!”
She felt she shouldn’t either, but wasn’t sure after her soldier’s request. She received the form letter that most BCT Companies will send out warning you to not send pornography, drugs, or OTC meds including vitamins. It’s hard to refrain from sending them something that would be obviously beneficial during a time of training and stress, but sending them could at the very least get him smoked. I advised her, as I do anyone who asks what to send their soldier during BCT, to send only letters and send them regularly. Send them on plain white paper with plain white envelopes and no “frilly” stuff scribbled on the outside. I am only going by the tales of soldiers getting to do a push-up for every bunny and smiley face on an envelope. Life is hard in BCT we need not make it worse.
So, with those added ideas out of the way, let’s tackle the question at hand. What if my soldier gets sick or injured during BCT or AIT?
First if he is sick: Each morning in BCT a soldier is given the opportunity to go on “sick call.” When he says he needs sick call he will be given a chance to see medical staff who will determine the best course of treatment for his ailment. The doctor he sees can prescribe medication that your soldier can take at the barracks if he is sent back (these meds are approved and allowed since it’s the BCT doc who gives the script). The doctor may also give orders such as bed rest, sending your soldier to the infirmary or possibly admitting him into the hospital if necessary. The other good news and for you to bear in mind is the Drill Instructors are trained and know what to do in case of a medical emergency. The Army does not want your soldier sick or hurt any more than you do. Bear in mind that they want to mold and shape, not break and sink.
The doctors will contact you if they think it is necessary. Do not be angry if you are not contacted and your soldier has been very ill. The Army is not obligated to call you, technically, unless the illness or injury is life threatening. Don’t panic if they do call you, sometimes they do this as a courtesy to let you know your soldier is ill. Not all calls are for life threatening illnesses, but not all illnesses get a phone call home. Don’t panic yet.
If an illness keeps your soldier from being able to finish any of the required parts of training, or if they illness is long lasting, the chain of command may decide that it is in your soldier’s best interest to be recycled. Being recycled can be discouraging to you and your soldier. Now is a good time to encourage your soldier and reassure him/her that you will continue to be supportive and that you are still very proud of the work they are doing. Acknowledge the disappointment, but don’t let it bring your soldier down. Being recycled is not the worst thing to happen, but it can certainly feel that way in the moment.
Injuries are different and the outcome and how the Army will deal with it. My son had an old injury from Jr. High when he had suffered a fracture in his shoulder. The fracture was fully healed, but the added strain of push-ups caused him to have a severe case of tendinitis in that shoulder. His chain of command had him evaluated and my son was put on anti-inflammatory medications. He was also excused from the push ups for a few days while they got the inflammation under control. Once it was under control he was returned to his normal training and PT and had no more problems with it. He graduated on time. Another friend of his suffered a severe fracture due to some abnormalities in his foot that were previously unknown. The Army discharged the young man after treating him for his fractures. He was no longer eligible for service due to the unknown medical issues that surfaced.
AIT can be a little different in regards to illness/injury and what is done. It does depend on your soldier’s MOS and what the AIT school is equipped for. When my husband broke his femur during OCS training, he could not stay and be rehabbed. OCS does not have a rehab unit. Most (if not all?) AIT schools will have a way to rehab most injuries that occur. Of course there is never a guarantee, and every case has to be evaluated for what is best for both the Army and the soldier.
Hang in there and remember (the one thing that got me through) that TraDoc is a beast unto itself and day to day Army life is very different once training is over. Injuries and illnesses happen on any job, and the Army is not immune to them either. However, your soldier will be taken care of.