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Can my Chain of Command make me go to the field on a dead man’s profile and cructhes?

I recently had a hip Arthoscopy and a Labrum reconstruction surgery. Today is my final day of Convalescent Leave. My company command told my NCO that as soon as I sign in today, I have to come to the company and sleep in the Motorpool with the other rear D personnel while they are out in the field. I’m still recovering and on crutches and my medical profile pretty much all No’s down my profile. What I want to know is if they can make do this? Or should I do it and face the risk of hindering my recovery?

Yes, you can be made to participate, however the commander assumes responsibility should there be further injury.

Let’s look at this from two perspectives

Perspectives

Your Perspective:

You want to heal correctly and believe this is an inappropriate action.

Company Commander Perspective

Most likely wants to ensure 100% participation in the exercise. The Commander may also feel you are trying to get out of going to the field by exaggerating your injury status.

Discussion

So let’s look at some options:
1. Go do it and just suck it up – probably not the best solution.
2. See the commander/1SG on open door policy and discuss the issue and risks associated with staying in the motor pool.
3. File an article 138 complaint against your commander- see ASKTOP.net article on 138 complaints.
4. Go see your physician explain what is happening and have them call the commander to discuss the issue or provide you with a note as to why this is inappropriate.

Keep in mind that the Commander assumes all risks and responsibility for you should your duties violate your profile or should you injury yourself while on the FTX (should you be exposed to unsafe conditions like an area in which you might fall because of your crutches slipping, etc.)

Historically Speaking

I recall two occasions which Soldiers with profiles went to the field in a profile status:

1. This individual went to the TMC and got a profile the day before we went to the field and was bragging they did not have to go to the field. He was on crutches. I made special arrangements for this individual. He had a cot, was our radio operator (radio was right beside his cot, and had individuals bring him chow, finally I had a port-o-pottie located within feet of the tent he was staying in. However, had this individual further injured themselves, my commander would have been responsible. This action was cleared through the head doc at the TMC and my commander. Had this individual been professional about the issue I would have allowed them to stay in the rear and pull other duties supporting the exercise from the rear in a capacity that supported the profile. However, because of his unprofessional attitude and the impact on morale I felt it only appropriate to take him to the field. It was a calculated risk.

2. This individual was a member of my gun section and had a leg cast. The commander insisted he go the field with us. The NCO Support Channel disagreed and fought for the Soldier to stay in the rear. The Soldier went to the field and was our radio operator for the gun. Unfortunately, it rained rather heavily. The Soldier fell in the deep mud. His cast came apart because of the down pours of rain (even thou he protected it will a garbage bag). Long story short the field exercise caused further injury to the Soldier. The Soldier filed an Article 138 complaint and the commander was relieved of command for abuse of subordinates and failure to maintain the health and welfare of his subordinates.

Suggestion

The best possible course of action might be to simply speak with the commander and 1SG together on open door policy. Look at the situation from their point of view and use that perspective to develop your discussion.

Answer their concerns, perceptions, etc. Be professional, unemotional, factual, and calm. Bring a solution to the table. For example, you could pull CQ every other day, You could assist in any duties that had to be performed as rear detachment within the limits of your profile. The key is to get the chain of command to look at the situation from your perspective! Consider asking them if the roles were reversed would they be willing to take a chance of further injury which could result in a worse injury that you might have to live with for the rest of your life.

Go to the field. If the field exercise allows you the ability to participate in a limited way going to the field might not be a bad option. While this is not combat or a real-world operation think of it this way. If you were deployed and you were injured you would be returned to your unit and perform duties with your unit while you healed. Just a thought looking at it from the command perspective.

Develop your discussion, bring solutions to the table, win the command team over with your agreement and be professional.

Bottomline

Only you can decide if you should suck this up and risk further injury or discuss the issue with your chain of command.  Generally most command teams are understanding and want to do the right thing.

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Respectfully,
TOP

posted on 05/11/2018 under Q&A
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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training..

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