15 October 2004
- After Army Sgt. Terrell Dawes, 22, settled into a
wheelchair, he looked around, smiled and said it was
great to see Indians again.
and his mother, Vesta James, returned from San Antonio,
Texas, Oct. 6, where Dawes was treated for wounds at the
Brooks Military Army Hospital from Sept. 10 to 17.
Army awarded Dawes a Purple Heart on Sept. 8 but failed
to arrange for wheelchair assistance or give him pain
who re-enlisted in the Army for four more years, was
riding in a Humvee with four platoon members when it was
hit by a car bomb in Iraq on Sept. 8.
blast launched the Humvee into the air and when it
landed, Dawes was partially pinned under it.
was flown to a military hospital in Germany where he was
treated for burns over half of his body. He had the toes
from one of his feet amputated and steel pins placed in
was then transported to the Brooks Army Medical Center,
where military burn patients are treated.
a former Window Rock High School athlete, was using a
cane and wincing each time he took a step or made a
movement, which he did with great care.
Dawes got into the passenger side of his Mustang, the
look of his face showed he was in pain.
in a telephone interview from San Antonio, said,
"It is pissing me off. They (Army) left me out
hanging. They discharged me from the hospital when I
couldn't walk or lift my arms. I could hardly talk or
feed myself. And now they're making us pay for
everything. They should have paid for everything."
said the Army discharged him from the military hospital
in San Antonio into the care of his mother on Sept. 17
but didn't tell them that the discharge meant the Army
was washing its hands of all financial responsibility.
(Army) told us recently, 'Hey you're on your own and you
have to pay for everything.' We have this big bill here
to pay and we don't know how we're going to pay
it," said Dawes.
said his mother and he had to ask for more financial
assistance from home.
when they found out that Michael Dawes, his biological
father, had collected donations during the recent Navajo
Nation Fair rodeo and his paternal grandmother, Janet
Dawes, collected money at the fair powwow.
said his biological dad abandoned the family - which
includes a younger brother and his mother - when he was
five years old. Now Michael Dawes is using his name to
Navajo Times attempted to locate Micheal Dawes for
comment but was unable to contact him.
making me mad," said Terrell Dawes. "I haven't
seen any of that money."
was also upset about the Army making his mother stay
with him and take care of him.
who took leave from her job at the Fort Defiance Indian
Health Service hospital, said that when they found out
last week that they had to pay a $1,500 bill, she
started asking the Army to lift the medical hold on her
son so they could go home.
said Army officials told her that if she took Dawes home
while the medical hold was in place, the Army could
charge Dawes with absent without leave and her with
we couldn't leave the base," said James. "The
things we went through. I just broke down and cried. He
(Dawes) was out there (in Iraq). And he's fighting for
his country and this is what we get."
said the Army initially told her they would cover her
financial expenses while she was in San Antonio, which
they said would be from Sept. 10 to 27.
said she felt like the Army was being discriminatory
because of the color of their skin or because they were
said that when she threatened to contact the local media
about how they were being treated, the Army lifted the
medical hold on Dawes a few minutes before 5 p.m. on
Schrum, Army public affairs officer for medical centers,
said in a Sept. 6 telephone interview from the military
hospital that wounded soldiers are not discharged from
the hospital until they can care for themselves.
said she was unable to speak James or Dawes because she
couldn't locate them.
Schrum learned that James was on her way home with
Dawes, she said, "She (James) can't do that."
after learning that James arranged for the medical hold
on Dawes to be lifted, Schrum said Dawes was probably
released a convalescence pass.
said she did find out that James was staying at the
Fisher Foundation House, which is where family members
stay after they receive an invitation from the Army. The
invitation covers travel, room and lodging expenses, she
emphasized, "We don't let people out of the
hospital based on their ethnicity. Injured soldiers are
injured soldiers regardless of ethnicity."
said "we have a lot of disconnects" and said
she would contact James Oct. 9.
to Dawes' hospital discharge letter, which was written
on Sept. 17 letter to Capt. Jacob Smith from Maj. Fran
M. Renz, "He (Dawes) currently needs assistance to
get out of bed and cannot walk without help. He is
unable to carry his own tray in the dining hall and will
need assistance with daily hygiene needs."
said maybe if her son, who went on four combat tours,
had blue eyes and blonde hair, he would have been give
the same treatment as Army Spc. Jessica Lynch, who went
on only one combat tour.
Army went all out for Lynch by paying for her family's
travel expenses and buying her a new vehicle and home,
press time, no patient representative from the hospital
had returned a message from the Navajo Times.
said medical staff were surprised by James' accusation
and said James told them she was happy with how her son