The Army's failure to protect active combat Sergeant Trevino

Sgt. Trevino has written proof of superior and impressive leadership. Evidently, it means nothing. Photo: AP/ Combat

WASHINGTON, August 21, 2013 — The terrorist events of 9-11 angered Reynaldo Trevino so much he decided when he graduated high school to enlist in the Army to defend his country and become a career military officer. Trevino enlisted at age 17.

Trevino went to boot camp and advanced infantry training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He then married at age 22, had a son and adopted his nephew.

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Trevino was dispatched to Iraq and from there to Afghanistan where he was awarded the rank of E-5-sergeant. This was a battlefield commission he accomplished at age 23. It normally takes four to nine years to achieve this rank.

Having seen combat, Trevino, as all returning combatants, underwent a psychiatric evaluation. The evaluation determined he was having mild anxiety that made sleep a bit difficult as he was adjusting to non-combat life back in the states. He was prescribed a mild sleep medication.

Trevino’s dream was to attend officer’s training and become what is known as a JAG officer or part of the Judge Advocate General’s office. Trevino was committed to his service in the Army and planned on serving the nation in the Army for the duration of his career. He loved the Army and felt ongoing duty to his country. Trevino enrolled at Devry University and maintains a 4.0 GPA.

Having forwarded documentation for this article, it appears Trevino excelled in every effort that he was ordered to do and impressed everyone on the battlefield and off. His developed a reputation for leadership and set high standards for himself and those he commanded.

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As a result of his collection of sterling recommendations, Trevino applied for what is known as the “Green to Gold” scholarship award for those that excel and stand out. He enrolled in UC Berkeley for officers training.

An examination of Trevino’s letters reveal that Commanding Brigadier General Donald MacWillie of Ft. Riley wrote “Sgt. Trevino as worked tirelessly to develop qualities necessary to lead., train and mentor soldiers” and his “Commitment to soldiers has garnered the support of his entire chain of command”. He goes on to say Trevino “leads by example and is the embodiment of what we expect from our officers and is my first choice to receive one of my Hip-Pocket Green to Gold Scholarships.” Of which there are only five available.

Trevino’s lieutenant commander, Rodger A. Crombie III, wrote a similar letter stating Trevino “Consistently demonstrates the skills, attributes and actions we require in our officers” and is “professional in all he does.” Crombie declares Trevino has “Unlimited potential to serve in positions of increased responsibility” and “This battalion marks him as one of our finest.”

Letters from Trevino’s captain Brian Gallagher claims Trevino “Is a true motivator” and “Should be accepted into the Green to Gold program and would prove to be highly qualified.”

Trevino’s’ physical report declares him very fit and his psychiatric evaluations as marking Trevino for a great candidate for the Green to Gold program. In fact, Trevino’s psychiatrist wrote a highly positive letter of recommendation since he has no psychological issues.

Trevino felt encouraged and motivated with the understanding everyone who knows him wrote glowing reports. He is “The finest” soldier for recommendation from all angles. He is an experienced combatant, physically and mentally approved and recommended and has zero reason for not fulfilling his dream to be a part of JAG. Then he got a response from is application-DENIED.

The reason stated for denial is: “I have determined the SGT Trevino is medically disqualified for participation in the US Army Reserve Officers Training Corps Program” and “Due to the nature of his medical condition (psychiatric) it would not be in the best interest of the Army to allow him in this program.”

What Trevino requested was a waiver for the anxiety he felt from his deployment to combat zones but clearly, his anxiety was/is mild with no signs of any stress disorder.

Anyone who experiences combat, particularly in Afghanistan where conditions are of subsistence, will experience some anxiety.

Trevino’s psychiatrist, commanding officers and anyone else who is aware of his exemplary record profess anger, disappointment and frustration as does Trevino; in spades.

Trevino claims if he had anxiety while deployed, it doesn’t come close to the anxiety, stress, anger, disappointment, frustration and confusion he is experiencing as a result of the Army, in his view, taking his best and returning their worst.

Calls and E-mails to the Pentagon and various offices within the Army were met with passing bucks and disclaimers of information availability. One office in the Pentagon claims Trevino’s medical records are off-limits due to the HIPAA patient confidentiality law yet medical records are the very reason cited in the denial.

Moreover, Trevino still performs his duties as required on a daily basis and the Army determines him fit for duty and action. Apparently, Trevino’s is not fit to attend school despite all of his commanding officers documenting otherwise.

Trevino’s psychiatric evaluation as presented does not indicate any issue other than anxiety from returning from combat duty. This is based on an objective clinical evaluation from a psychotherapist outside the Army. Trevino’s medical records were submitted by Trevino for this article along with all relevant documentation.

The singular recourse for Trevino had had been to communicate with the Inspector General’s office but his request was met with no explanation. No explanation was available for this article. It seems everyone wants Trevino to fulfill his goal except, well, no one knows and here is the rub; Trevino wants to know who made this odd decision and why? Why won’t anyone in the Army step up and take responsibility for a decision based on misinformation? Why won’t anyone let Trevino appeal and address this issue?

The U.S. Army Medical Department’s “Army Behavioral Health” publication has a frequently asked column where the fifth question is “Is seeing a mental health professional career killer?”  The answer is “No” and it goes on to say seeking help is a discreet process unless a soldier professes to kill someone or commit suicide.

It appears in Trevino’s case, mild anxiety and a sleeping aid post combat is, in fact, a career killer.

Trevino has two and one half years left in what was his beloved Army. Now, every waking moments is filled with hate and anger for the Army and he wants out.

It is Trevino’s position that he did is due in exemplary fashion and all he wishes for is a chance to once again prove his value to the Army by getting educated and finish his career with JAG.

Someone who remains to be identified, is standing in his way.


Paul Mountjoy is a columnist for the Washington Times Communities


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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