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Purple Heart Recipient Gets Bill For Gear







LEBANON, Ore
An injured soldier said the military awarded him a Purple Heart for his bravery and then sent him a $3,000 bill, KIRO-TV in Seattle reported.

Gary Pfleider, a former Oregon National Guard soldier, said the bill was for equipment the military says he lost.

Pfleider joined the National Guard after Sept. 11, 2001, and six years later a sniper shot him in Iraq.

"I remember grabbing a hold of my leg and pulling my hands out and realizing that I had blood on my hands. And from that point on, until I got loaded onto the Stryker, was just a big blur," Pfleider said.

He received a Purple Heart three days after he was shot.

Two years later, Pfleider said he got a bill from the military for missing equipment including clothing and grenades. The total, including interest, was more than $3,000.

Pfleider said he lost sight of the gear when he left Iraq and shouldn't be responsible for it now, but the federal government is taking money from his disability check each month.

He said they also froze his tax returns to pay for it.

The Oregon National Guard said the charges come from Joint Base Lewis McChord, where Pfleider spent one year recovering from his injury.

Officials said it’s customary for soldiers in similar situations to be billed for missing equipment, and they said Pfleider should submit a sworn statement explaining his situation.

Pfleider said he did that four months ago.

JBLM said it’s investigating the issue.

"It could be on our part, on this one or could be on the soldier's part. That's one thing they're going to take a look at," said Capt. Stephen Bomar, public affairs officer for the Oregon Military Department.

"I think it's just sitting there on somebody's desk at Fort Lewis, and they just don't want to mess with it," Pfleider said.

Pfleider said he wants to focus on his upcoming ninth leg surgery and adjusting to life after war.


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