You can’t put a price tag on surviving a deadly attack overseas, but one Fort Hood soldier knows the cost of the helmet that saved his life all too well.
“I had a couple shrapnels in my side plates and in my helmet,” Army Sergeant Michael Williams said about the gear that protected him on June 13, 2011.
Now, more than two years after the day he was wounded by an improvised explosive device in Iraq, he got a “bill” for his shrapnel-pierced helmet.
“I automatically assumed that, you know, that’s the gear that I got blown up in, that I almost died in, and I lost two buddies in, and I didn’t think anything of it.”
A few months after the blast injured his back and head, Mike says he cleared his missing gear with supply personnel, but admits he didn’t continue to regularly check on his status regarding missing gear, like he should have.
Then when he went through finance to medically retire in September, he got a statement of charges.
It lists $280.80 for his helmet, $25.99 for his neck pad, plus $335.42 for other gear that someone stole from a shipping container on the way back from the deployment.
Mike’s leadership says paying the $642.21 total is where Mike went wrong.
“The Soldier’s unit initiated a Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss. While the investigation was in progress, Sgt. Williams voluntarily paid for the missing equipment, now the unit is looking into possible options to help the Soldier,” a 1st Cavalry Division, 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Officer said.
For now, Mike is taking the financial hit, while he, his wife and their two kids do what they can to cut back on spending.
He said, “It put me negative. I haven’t been able to pay my mortgage for this month, so I’m kind of behind on that, and then my wife actually pulled some money out of her other account.”
He’s also put off the cost of training for his new civilian career, driving commercial vehicles.
“You know it’s partially my fault, but at the same time, it really should never happen, because I’m not the only person it’s happened to,” Mike said.
Still, he says he’s extremely grateful his unit is trying to find a way to help him.
He medically retires from the Army this month.
Reporter: Sophia Stamas firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographer: Chris Buford email@example.com