The Army is investigating allegations that medically unfit soldiers out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska, were deployed to Iraq in recent months, according to a USA Today report Wednesday.
Soldiers said commanders tried to deploy them before they completed necessary medical tests, or before they were able to recuperate from medical operations, according to the USA Today article.
A handful of rear-detachment soldiers started circulating a petition around the base after three soldiers’ cases were highlighted in USA Today. The base is home to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
One soldier, Spc. Mark Oldham, was deployed in December despite a doctor’s recommendation that he wear a heart monitor in order to find out why he was passing out during physical training, according to the article.
Maj. Gen. Patricia Horoho, head of the Army’s Western Regional Medical Command, learned of the petition last week and "immediately directed that inquiries into these allegations be conducted," Army spokeswoman Sharon Ayala told USA Today.
In a March 23 article, the newspaper also reported that an inspector general’s report found the Army’s process for deciding a soldier’s fitness for combat is confusing and increases the chances of deploying ailing troops.
Army commanders in Alaska said 80 soldiers with health issues were left behind when the brigade deployed in September, and later 23 of those were sent to Iraq. Lt. Col. Jonathan Allen said the 23 soldiers deployed only after being found fit for combat.