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Army Training Regimen Brutal in US, Needs Overhauling

cally discharged. As trainees, all have yet to be granted "permanent party" status in the Army. In the military hierarchy, this makes them lower life forms, which is how they were being treated at Fort Sill

In March last year Matthew Scarano, 21, in the PTRP was found dead in his bunk. He had been recuperating for more than a year with a shoulder injury and suffering excruciating pain. It was unlikely he would ever be fit for battle, but he could not get out. Over the months of Scarano's confinement to the program, his shoulder got worse, and so did he. "The Army has me on Ambien, seroquel, tylox and oxycontins. I also get trazadone to take the edge off," he wrote his family.

At the time of death he was on Fentanyl, described in medical literature as an analgesic patch 80 times more potent than morphine. The Army said an overdose had killed him, and then, although his injured comrades said that dispensing drugs was as strictly controlled as every other aspect of life in PTRP, it essentially blamed the dead man as a doper and the others as slackers for not reporting his drug problem.

After Scarano's death, the Army initiated an investigation and issued policy changes. It had done something similar two years earlier when another PTRP inmate, Pvt. Jason Poirier, 22, died in the same Fort Sill barracks from acute methadone intoxication. It's doubtful that the adjustments since Scarano's death will do any more than those after Poirier's to alter fundamentally the treatment of injured soldiers.

"Ft. Sill still doing it," read the subject line of a February letter from a woman who said her nephew was sick with pneumonia and asthma and had been kicked in the chest by a drill sergeant.

"There was a kid that got shipped to basic [training] with two of the four valves of his heart closed. ... I talked to a kid at the TMC -- troop medical clinic -- who had one of his instructors jump on his back and injure him, and it was
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