Post Classifieds

Suspension not connected to hazing, Rangers assert

By Arielle Eaton
On October 20, 2011

The Norwich University Ranger Challenge Company's suspension from Sept. 23 to 29 was rumored to have resulted from an alleged hazing investigation, which is apparently false, according to the company's Army leadership.

"That's absolutely false, I would have been the one who made that call and I've never had an issue with hazing," said Col. Steve Smith, a professor of military science for Norwich's Army Department. "I'm not really sure where that rumor got started."

"The suspension was the result of the training schedule formats (being) turned into me prior to the training," Smith said.

Smith "provides oversight" for the Ranger Challenge Company, including looking over the training plans for the company.

Some students believed the suspension was due to an incident on Sept. 28, when a freshman candidate was evacuated to a local hospital.

The candidate was not hospitalized for an injury caused from Ranger training, Smith assured. "I can only tell you that it's been confirmed that the medical condition was not related to the training that the cadets (were doing). We review the training plan and we do risk assessments before the training. Those were unrelated events."

"I have heard (the rumors) and I try to address them," said Charles Andrews, a 22-year-old criminal justice major from Westford, Mass. who is serving as the Ranger Challenge Team company commander. "We weren't investigated for hazing."

"It was actually just bad timing," Andrews said. "It actually wasn't a suspension; we were just stopped by the Army Department to organize our training schedule."

According to Andrews, the so-called suspension had been planned prior to the injury of the candidate.

After training on Friday, Sept. 23, the Ranger Challenge Company's training was halted. The email notification candidates received about the suspension included no explanation why, said a Ranger Challenge Company candidate who wishes to remain anonymous. Still without a full explanation, training was resumed four training days later on Sept. 29.

Jacqueline Derocher, a 19-year-old psychology sophomore from Northwood, N.H., and a member of the Ranger Challenge team, said, "Basically, what I heard about it was that one kid failed to tell them that he had a heat injury."

Derocher heard a rumor that the injured candidate had passed out due to training with a heat injury and not properly caring for himself. "He (the injured candidate) had decided to not drink enough water," Derocher said. "He wasn't sleeping enough, he wasn't eating enough, and one PT session, I don't really know that they were doing but I know it was a PT session, and he just passed out; completely passed out. They (the Army cadre) thought that they were hazing the kids and forcing them to do stuff that they weren't capable of doing. So, that's what I've heard."

Because the evacuation of the injured candidate occurred after training time, the Ranger Challenge Company was unaware of the situation until the next day.

"We were surprised to find out about it," said Ryan Thompson, a 21-year-old senior history major from Rockland, Mass., and the standing executive officer of Ranger Challenge Company. "When he left us he was OK, a little short of breath and tired, but we advised him to eat food and rest. He went from the infirmary to the hospital from there."

"They weren't suspended for any injuries," Smith said of the ongoing rumor about Ranger Company. "I'm not really sure where that rumor got started."

In accordance to The Health Insurance and Portability Privacy Act (HIPPA) Privacy Rule, individuals can choose whether to disclose their medical information.

"If someone has a medical condition, you don't know about it unless they tell you. So that's what this case was," Smith explained. "It came out that it had nothing to do with training."

"I talked to the doctor at the infirmary," Thompson said, "(the injured candidate) was a very rare case of high heart rate and it was probably because he was sick. The fact that he was training with us while he was still sick is what got him injured."

"(Ranger's leadership) were doing everything that they were supposed to," said Ryan Patterson, an 18-year-old freshman business management major from Detroit, Mich. "Every time before training they would tell us to stretch or drink water and at any time we said we were out of water they would bring the jug (to let us fill up)."

"In regards to this incident (the recruits and candidates) would not be the most informed people," Thompson said. The two significant injuries of this year, according to Thompson, have been handled at the command level of the company, who works directly with the Norwich Army Department. "We don't keep (the other members of the company) in the dark, we tell them what they need to know," Thompson said. "There's a lot of misconception around this whole story."

"Col. (Smith) was meeting with the commandant (Col. Rick Van Arnam, who is the commandant of cadets) about the future of special units. It wasn't actually that one injury that caused us to be suspended," Thompson said, "(Smith) planned a training meeting and until he had met with the commandants and figures out what the future of special units was going to be, we were not to train."

In case of an injury, the Ranger Challenge Company has a set of procedures. Along with posting cadre at each training site, some of whom are Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) qualified, Rangers also have emergency evacuation vehicles in place at all training sites. During larger scaled events, the Rangers notify the Northfield Ambulance and then the Northfield Police Department if the event interferes with traffic.

If an injury occurs, according to procedure, Ranger cadre would report to the Army Department and the guard shack. From there, the Office of the Commandant is notified of the injury. "We've got a pretty good system in place to handle any emergency we might have," Smith said.

"We've never had an injury that we needed to relook our program (for)," Smith said. As one of the Army cadre overseeing Ranger Challenge Company, Smith has not had any quandaries with the cadets' Ranger training and the hazing policies enforced at Norwich.

"Everything we do is based on solid training management the principles that we use in the Army; there's no hokiness, there's no hazing," Smith said. "Everything we do is focused on leadership development and tactical development. We're not making this up as we go along."

"(We) still trained the next day," Thompson said regarding training after the supposed halting factor in the Ranger's training. "Most special units have been on the chopping block (and) that's because of insurance reasons. However, we're still cleared to train so we are more focused on the good things that we have going on with the company this year, and in the next couple of years with the changes."

"There're always small injuries," Thompson said. From minor dehydration to minor abrasions, there are certain risks involved with taking on challenges of becoming a Norwich Ranger. "Things happen during training," he said.

"You're always concerned about injuries, but we have a Risk Assessment Form that the cadets fill out," Smith said. This form, also referred to as a Composite Risk Management (CRM) worksheet, is used in the military to assess and implement controls to reduce risks in training.

Knowing that there are obvious risks involved with the type of training Rangers undergoes, the company has set plans in place to lessen the potential for harm. "The way we mitigate (risks) is (through) a CRM sheet," Thompson said. "With most training someone eventually gets hurt, but we're taking those proper steps to mitigate those risks."

The Ranger cadre working directly with the candidates and who answer directly to Thompson are apt to look for symptoms of common injuries, such as dehydration. "(The Ranger cadre staffs) watch them for signs of dehydration," Thompson said.

Should a member of the Ranger Challenge Company candidacy show signs of dehydration or other injury, the cadre know to immediately stop candidates from training in order to rest and to give them water. Once they have rested and rehydrated, they can either stop training or continue. However, Thompson said that if the injured is seriously ill or harmed, they are not given such an option and immediately taken to the infirmary.

Though training has been continued, there is still a question as to the impact the incident and the suspension has made upon the special unit. While not a part of Ranger Company, Derocher has noticed a change in the training sessions with the Ranger Challenge team, though the team's training was not put on the same suspension.

Similarly, the Ranger Company has cut back on the amount of physical training done now that the indoctrination period is over for the candidates.

"So far, I'm not sure if it is just to get off the radar for a little bit, but (training is) a little bit less physical," Patterson said. "We're also learning more on-the-field stuff, like what you'll actually need at LDAC. We're getting into the actual training rather than just PT."

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