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Mother Says Military's Negligence Diminished Son's Health - KOAM TV 7

Mother Says Military's Negligence Diminished Son's Health

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Carl Junction-native, and active army specialist, Stephen Martin is battling CIDP, a neurological disorder affecting motor functions. His mother says the past 16-months have been frightening, not to mention frustrating.

When Stephen Martin enlisted in the U.S. Army, his parents knew there was a chance he would return in a wheelchair. They never imagined it would happen this way. 

"I had no idea that it could go to this extent and still no one would listen," Stephen's mother Tracey Martin said. 

May 2015, Stephen Martin has numbness in his right hand while stationed in Germany. Symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as CIDP. Treatment is delayed. Tracey receives a message from another soldier telling her Stephen's commanding officer, "did little to nothing to make sure Stephen was tak[en] care of."

In February, Stephen transfers to Fort Riley, KS, with the Warriors Transition Unit. His parents say, there, treatments were often canceled. Records weren't properly shared from Stephen's time in Germany. And because his treatment was mis-managed, the condition spread throughout both arms, legs, and put him in a wheelchair. 

"I have a letter that states my son went downhill every single time there was a delay," Tracey said. "And that had resulted in his current condition."

In early August, Stephen transfers to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Maryland. Tracey says it's the first time Stephen has had consistent treatment and direct supervision from a neurologist. At this point he's bound to a wheelchair with no feeling below his knees. 

Tracey says it was a struggle to finally get the proper care Stephen needs. Now, she says, there's a new fight to continue his treatment. Stephen is scheduled to be transferred back to Fort Riley.

"My son needs to be at Walter Reed," Tracey said. "And the only one in the way of that is a lieutenant colonel at Fort Riley."

"It does not make sense for a non-medical person to make medical decisions," Stephen's step-father, William Runkle said. 

On Tuesday, Tracey answers a call from Senator Claire McCaskill's office. There's currently a congressional inquiry into whether Stephen has received proper medical attention and whether he will be permanently placed at Walter Reed to continue his current treatment. McCaskill and Senator Roy Blunt's office confirm continued contact with Tracey.

"Because things roll a lot faster coming downhill from the top than me trying to push this rock uphill," Tracey said. "We've done that for a year. And in that amount of time my son started living his life in a wheelchair with a 24-hour assistant."

"You know, Stephen is a very dedicated young man that wanted nothing more than to serve his country and the army," Runkle said. "And the way he's being treated at this point; it's tragic, it's wrong."

We reached out to Fort Riley and asked about the quality of care it has and can offer. A spokesperson did not answer any of our questions. Tracey Martin says the family is still waiting to hear word on permanent transfer orders and the results of the congressional inquiry.

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