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Army IG report: Unfit soldiers have been deployed
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The Army’s process of determining whether soldiers are physically fit to fight could be the reason more than 45,000 unhealthy U.S. soldiers have been sent to war, despite doctor recommendations.
In an executive summary report released early this week by the Army inspector general, it was concluded that there are at least 15 “inadequate, unsynchronized or conflicting” policies governing fitness in the Armed Forces, which “increases the likelihood that soldiers who do not meet medical deployability requirements may be deployed in violation of one or more policies.”
The report was released after veteran associations raised concerns about the growing perception that the Army was deploying soldiers to war zones who were medically unfit.
The accusations caused alarm last June and prompted Army Secretary Pete Geren to request a probe into the situation.  
In a statement to USA Today, Geren said on Monday the Army will change how it determines a soldier’s medical fitness for war.
“The Army is concerned about the medical deployment process,” Geren said in the statement. “More work remains to be done to fully correct the findings addressed in the report. We are making progress … to ensure that our soldiers meet medical requirements before they are deployed.”
Locally, at least one 3rd Infantry Division soldier has been vocal about facing deployment despite suffering from what he said was a medically documented ankle problem.
Sgt. First Class Kevin Perkins took an absence without leave last October after he said he suffered an ankle sprain to an already bad ankle while home on emergency leave.
Perkins had been deployed four times and had 14 years in active duty service.
While he was in the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig, serving an estimated 10-month sentence for leaving his unit at the time of war, his girlfriend Tammy Wachter said Perkins had been diagnosed with left peroneal tendinitis and had been giving a physician’s recommendation for surgery to correct the problem.
In one of the profiles obtained by the Courier, Perkins was not supposed to participate in any form of running, marching or high-impact activities.
“He had no problem doing his job in the military,” Wachter said. “All he wanted to do was get his ankle fixed so that he could serve his country.”
On Jan. 6, Perkins’ girlfriend said he had surgery on his ankle while he was in the brig.
Since then, he has completed his time in jail and was released from active duty last month.
Their local phone number has been disconnected and he could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Officials at Fort Stewart said 3rd ID soldiers go through extensive screening before being sent to war and are in no way sent to combat zones without proper physical capabilities.
“We aggressively screen our soldiers using a thorough pre-deployment screening process that includes numerous medical checks, as well as other decision processes that involve leadership at every level,” 3rd ID spokesman Kevin Larson said. “The bottom line: The soldiers we deploy are medically fit and ready to perform their assigned mission.”
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