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The wife of an Army soldier from South Dakota 5-12-07

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The wife of an Army soldier from South
Dakota says her husband endured delays from the military bureaucracy
and racial slurs from his superiors before being allowed to be
treated for post traumatic stress disorder.

Spc. Ryan LeCompte of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe is to be treated at
a Veterans Affairs medical center in Sheridan, Wyo.

His wife, Tammi LeCompte, said she hopes he also will be evaluated
for a possible brain injury suffered during his two tours of duty in
Iraq from 2003 to 2005.

Lt. Col. David Johnson, an Army spokesman at Fort Carson, Colo., said
the soldier's superiors worked hard to get him treatment and that an
investigation is under way as whether he was harassed due to his
background.

“We're not sitting idly by,” Johnson said.

LeCompte is a former scout with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Some in Congress want to know whether Fort Carson officials are
downplaying mental health conditions among returning soldiers or are
trying to force soldiers with such problems out of the Army.

The Army first refused to acknowledge the seriousness of his
condition and tried to treat him for a substance abuse problem, Tammi
LeCompte said. His superiors also told him he was “a drunken
Indian,” she said.

“My husband is not an alcoholic,” she said.

After a night of drinking last month, LeCompte spent two weeks in a
civilian emergency mental health care facility near Fort Carson. Fort
Carson officials extended LeCompte's stay past the normal 72 hours
until they could get him into the Wyoming VA center, “a perfect
example of us making sure we care,” Johnson said.

“They threw him in there for two weeks,” Tammi LeCompte countered.
“The doctor said, 'We're not equipped for this.' But military
officials insisted, 'You leave him in there until we figure out what
to do with him.”'

The drinking was LeCompte's attempt to deal with ongoing mental
trauma, Tammi LeCompte said.

LeCompte's uncle, Orval Langdeau Jr., vice chairman of the Lower
Brule tribe, said his nephew never started drinking until about age
20, when he joined the Army seven years ago.

“In my opinion, all the Army did was make him drink more than he
did,” Langdeau said.

LeCompte saw hard fighting as a scout, and that changed him, Tammi
LeCompte said.

“At night he would get up and he would be so disoriented he would
think he was still over there. He would be crawling around on the
floor thinking he was still in combat.

“He was just angry. His eating habits changed. There was just so much.”

Johnson said Army medical officials were certain LeCompte's problems
stemmed from substance abuse. He failed two substance abuse treatment
programs at Fort Carson, which could be grounds for his discharge,
Johnson said. The fact he isn't being forced out “shows how Fort
Carson and the leadership here are fighting for LeCompte,” he said.

Tammi LeCompte said Fort Carson officials tried to make her husband
leave the Army until she and the tribe asked South Dakota's
congressional delegation to investigate.

Officials in the offices of Sens. Tim Johnson and John Thune and Rep.
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin said they did inquire but declined to offer
specifics, citing a federal medical privacy law.
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