The Army has failed one of their own, the Capt. Beverly Sweeney story, Part 1.By Susy Raybon October 9, 2014
Army Capt. Beverly Sweeney sits in her barracks suite at Joint Base Lewis McChord, not quite a prisoner, but not really able to leave, either. Her journey to this small barracks at the Warrior Transition Battalion has been a long one; a journey that has been a professional tug-of-war for the last five years.
When one of the lead stories in yesterday’s Tacoma News Tribune online reported that Madigan, JBLM’s military hospital, had “corrected deficiencies cited in Pentagon review of its hospitals” Capt. Sweeney called this Examiner. She had her own story to tell; much of it putting a “fine point” on Soldier care; some of that care, more accurately, lack of, was right there at Madigan. And as she relates, those problems are far from being corrected. She says the problems at the Veteran’s Administration highlighted recently because of a whistle-blower are the tip-of-the iceberg for military health care woes.
In 1976, at age 18, Sweeney enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps, a branch of the military that was disbanded just two years later. Proudly, she signed the standard Army contract, “ to protect her country from terrorists both foreign and domestic” not knowing at the time the fight of her life would come from within the very system she served and signed up to defend.
Starting her Army career as a dental assistant, Beverly Sweeney had higher aspirations to serve her fellow Soldiers. She was a trained combat medic, although never deployed, and then went on to be a flight medic and licensed combat nurse; yes she jumped out of helicopters. Commissioned into the Army Nurse Corps in 2005, she obtained her Advanced Practice Nursing Degree in 2007.
Sweeney, who is now a captain, and has been nominated to sit for major boards, is not only a wife and mother, at age 57, she is also a grandmother. She has, like so many others in our country, dedicated her life to the military. Now, it seems as if she has also dedicated her health.
Capt. Sweeney’s story of how the Army has blatantly ignored her multiple health problems, beginning with a line-of-duty injury in 2009, and ending with a missed diagnosis of breast cancer just months ago, sadly isn’t as unique as civilians would like to believe.
Last month, Military Times published the story of Army National Guard Spc. Robert Quattrocchi, 31, who suffered a line-of duty injury in 2011, while on deployment in Afghanistan. He, too, is caught in the quagmire of the military’s own black hole of paperwork and denial. Now he, his wife, and infant are homeless.
Tomorrow, the details of Capt. Sweeney’s unrelenting fight, and timeline, to get the Army to acknowledge her injury and active-duty health issues. She feels like she is living John Grisham’s book, The Rainmaker, as the Army repeatedly denies they have received her medical records and refuses to allow her the treatment a 38-year-active-duty Soldier deserves.