"Then one recent morning staff from Walter Reed had to bang on Chas's door just to wake him. Chip says chas is in such a groggy state now he could not even get on his segway."
"Chip began to investigate and discovered doctors changed Chas's medication, despite chip's specific orders not to. He is convinced his son is being prescribed too many painkillers and anti-depressants."
Illinois Soldier's Family Worries About His Safety at Walter Reed Hospital
By Teresa Woodard FOX2now.com
November 11, 2009
- Local Vet Finds New Mobility O'FALLON, IL (KTVI-FOX2now.com) – The family of an O'Fallon, Illinois soldier who lost his leg in Iraq is asking serious questions about treatment at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC. There's been an unexpected setback in Specialist Chas Shaffer's recovery. Fourteen months after the incident, his father says he has regressed, and he blames the medication he's being prescribed by army doctors.
Chip Shaffer marched in the Veterans' Day Parade in O'Fallon Wednesday afternoon, all the while wondering how his son was feeling in Washington, D.C.
"It seems like I keep failing. And as the father of a wounded warrior, I don't like failing," he says.
Shaffer is a veteran and the son of a World War Two veteran, and the father of a soldier.
"I am trying to protect that third generation," says Shaffer.
Chip's only son, Chas lost his right leg in Iraq on September 1, 2008. After months of intense physical and emotional therapy, Chas seemed unstoppable on a visit home in July. He was easily getting around on a prosthetic leg, and speeding up and down his father's street on a segway.
But now, Chip says, there has been a setback.
"About two and a half weeks ago, Chas was not quite the same on the phone," says Chip. He was irritable and confused, and could barely stay awake.
Then one recent morning staff from Walter Reed had to bang on Chas's door just to wake him. Chip says chas is in such a groggy state now he could not even get on his segway.
Chip began to investigate and discovered doctors changed Chas's medication, despite chip's specific orders not to. He is convinced his son is being prescribed too many painkillers and anti-depressants.
A long string of unclassified army emails shows the Shaffers began complaining about possible overmedication in February. Chas brought it up in what he believed would be a private and confidential meeting between amputees at Walter Reed and a senator, but his name was released and his superiors ridiculed him for what they called an"offhand comment" said because, "he had an audience, and he used it."
The emails were followed by face to face contact where Chas was told to remember the chain of command.
"In essence he was told never tell a senator, never tell anyone else anything. This is personal opinions did not count," says Chip.
The army has now stripped Chip of his power to make medical decisions on his son's behalf. He is deeply worried about Chas and all patients at Walter Reed.
"These kids need a lot of help. If we can't fix it, where are we as a country?" he asks. "If they want a fight, I have no problem taking a fight to 'em."
The senator Chas met with is Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin. He was at the same Veterans' Day Parade in O'Fallon as Chip. He promises he cares about Chas too.
"We've been in touch with Mr. Shaffer a number of times, and we're working with him," he told Fox 2. "He has legitimate concerns and we're going to make sure his son receives the best care. It wasn't that long ago that there were some really terrible stories coming out of Walter Reed. I think things are better, but we've got to judge this on a case by case basis and make sure his son is getting the very best treatment he deserves."
Chip was glad to hear the senator's comments.
"I'm going to place my confidence in Sen. Durbin. However, he fails, he's failing all our military," he says.