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Wife says soldier didn't have to die

Husband, father was waiting for treatment

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Confined to his quarters in Iskandariya, Iraq, coughing and having tingling in his fingers and toes, Sgt. John F. Burner III had a video conference with his wife in Grovetown around 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15.

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Verena Burner and her daughters, Caitlyn, 6, and Celina, 10, stand in front of a family photo that includes her late husband, Sgt. John F. Burner III. The sergeant died two weeks ago in Iraq, and his widow still has not received details of his death from military officials.   Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Verena Burner and her daughters, Caitlyn, 6, and Celina, 10, stand in front of a family photo that includes her late husband, Sgt. John F. Burner III. The sergeant died two weeks ago in Iraq, and his widow still has not received details of his death from military officials.

"They told him they were not set up to give him the necessary tests that he needed, and told him to come back on Friday," Verena Burner said.

On that Friday, though, when medical equipment finally caught up with Burner's unit -- then moving into Iskandariya, south of Baghdad -- it was too late.

An hour after she talked to him, the 32-year-old father of two was dead, and Verena Burner is not going to let the Army forget.

"I don't want this to be swept under the rug," she said Tuesday. "This does not have to happen. They should have been set up."

Left with their two daughters, 10-year-old Celina and 6-year-old Caitlyn, Burner questioned why her husband didn't receive the prompt medical care that injured soldiers typically get.

John Burner had been deployed only three weeks earlier, and apparently had taken ill during a training stop in Kuwait. He had seen a doctor in Baghdad, who prescribed him antibiotics and cold medicine.

Instead of keeping him there, near a hospital, the Army ordered him to move on with the unit to Iskandariya, she said.

"To me, that's unacceptable. You should just keep him there," his widow said.

It came as a shock to learn that her seemingly healthy husband, whose only known diagnosis was high blood pressure, would fall ill and die within days in Iraq.

He had had pneumonia in April, but recovered and was cleared by Army doctors for deployment in August, she said.

"It would ease my mind a little bit if I knew what he had," she said. "Not knowing is the worst. Respiratory infection is not going to be good enough."

She can't get answers, either from the Army's criminal investigations division or her husband's unit, which hasn't even sent a sympathy card. The results of an autopsy might not be available for up to six months, she said.

"It seems like nobody really cares," he told her during their final conversation, when he was confined to quarters and few checked on him.

Verena Burner had been so concerned that afternoon that she contacted her mother-in-law in Baltimore, who agreed to contact her congressman and the Red Cross the next day.

Their young daughters ask "a lot of questions" but seem to be getting along, with help from frequent visits with a school counselor, she said.

The family will travel next month to Arlington National Cemetery, where the sergeant will be buried with military honors Oct. 13.

Reached Tuesday, Army public affairs officials did not respond to requests for comment.

At Fort Gordon, where Burner was stationed, Public Affairs Assistant Mercedes Ballard-White said the incident was still under investigation.

Comments (44)

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cohlin001
0
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cohlin001 09/29/10 - 06:40 am
0
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When i was in Iraq, I got

When i was in Iraq, I got really sick and lost a lot of weight. The medical people kept telling me I was just losing weight because of the heat, even though in my previous deployments to the area I never lost that much. When I cam home for leave I went to a civilian doctor who advised me that I was to sick to be travelling. I informed my unit who didnt believe me and told me that if I was that sick, then I needed to pay my own way and check into Walter Reed in DC. So, I did. They immediatally admitted me. I spent 5 days in the hospital and another 3 months in recovery because my intestines were so messed up. Now, since then, I have been diagnosed with Chrones disease. I never had any problems until that deployment.

thankgodforaugusta
0
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thankgodforaugusta 09/29/10 - 07:37 am
0
0

get ready people this is the

get ready people this is the kind of care we all are headed for if nothing changes

Little Lamb
40099
Points
Little Lamb 09/29/10 - 07:40 am
0
0

Harbinger of Obamacare.

Harbinger of Obamacare.

getalife
4
Points
getalife 09/29/10 - 07:51 am
0
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Our government will screw up

Our government will screw up anything it oversees. The US Postal Service lost 7-8 billion dollars last year. When will the public learn that you cannot have imposed government run health care. If Obamacare is not repealed we are all going to be up that brown water creek!!

deadtired
3
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deadtired 09/29/10 - 08:05 am
0
0

and this is how they treat

and this is how they treat our guys in uniform ,,,, just wait till the goverment really takes control of the health care system for the rest of us , we will not have a chance in #$#%#$% if it an't broke let the govement run it ...it will be soon

patriotgirl
41
Points
patriotgirl 09/29/10 - 08:05 am
0
0

I am very sorry for the loss

I am very sorry for the loss of this soldier. But I don't blame the military. How many times have any of us gone to work sick? If I'm sick and get antibiotics I just carry on until they work. In this case they didn't. But Iraq isn't MCG and to expect they can do everything MCG can do is not realistic. I'm so sorry for the family but I don't think this was intentional.

alsteve
0
Points
alsteve 09/29/10 - 08:18 am
0
0

Patriotsgirl, nowhere did she

Patriotsgirl, nowhere did she say she expected her husband to get treatment like he was at MCG. But, a little treatment and concern would have gone along way. There is medical care readily available in Iraq, the easy thing would have been to leave him in Baghdad until he was well again. Intentional or not there is a lack of care and concern on the commands part and they need to be held responsible. And to not even have sent a sympathy card or taken days to call her after this happned --- Just plain disgusting.

anneli schubert
0
Points
anneli schubert 09/29/10 - 08:49 am
0
0

ich verfolge das alles nun

ich verfolge das alles nun schon seit dem unfassbaren geschehen,von deutschland aus ,mit!die army ist nicht untouchable!!die verantwortlichen müssen bestraft werden!das ist wohl das mindeste!(obwohl es john auch nicht mehr zurückbringt!) auch wenn es in amerika keiner gerne hören wird,ich sag es trotzdem:in deutschland,wäre ihm das nicht passiert!!!

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 09/29/10 - 08:52 am
0
0

This very

This very sad.......................and very wrong.

roebling
12
Points
roebling 09/29/10 - 09:06 am
0
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I'm so sorry for her loss and

I'm so sorry for her loss and for that of the daughters.

noway
201
Points
noway 09/29/10 - 09:10 am
0
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Why are you bringing up Obama

Why are you bringing up Obama and the healthcare plan? This travesty has NOTHING to do with that. This is ARMY "healthcare". I hope this lady gets to the bottom of it, because something fishy is going on to the detriment of our soldiers and her husband paid the ultimate price. Our soldiers are golden and they should be treated as such. They aren't just numbers. This is very, very sad. After all that our soldiers do, they are not taken care of. I'm so sorry for your loss.

sugarbutton
454
Points
sugarbutton 09/29/10 - 09:22 am
0
0

It's readily apparent how

It's readily apparent how most all health care systems operate and I have to say IMO they go for the least costly remedy and the military is really no different. I'm not guessing at this; I've been in the private sector and now have coverage from spouse at a military medical facility. It's lacking. All that aside, it still is an awful fact that here is a widow and two children left behind to cope with not only the loss of a husband and father, but with not knowing the real story. My heart goes out to this family. I cannot imagine the pain and I know it happens everyday, but I can't make light of it and NOT feel something for people who go through this.

pommom38
1496
Points
pommom38 09/29/10 - 09:43 am
0
0

I do feel for the family left

I do feel for the family left behind, and yes she deserves answers on to what exactly he died from. However, she can not lay fault with the hospital as she is doing. Many of us have been diagnosed with a bad cold or infection, handed our medicine, and went to work. Her husband's case is no different. He was given med's to help his symptoms at that time, why should he have stayed near a hospital?? As for the second hospital, I don't know, what do you expect? A foreign land, more than likely not the most advanced doctors or equipment at hand. This is a tragic situation, but I still say you can not blame doctors or the hospitals for care received/not received. It is pathetic that his unit didn't bother to send something expressing their condolences, I thought military people stuck together no matter what??
Hopefully she will get answers soon.

happychimer
13231
Points
happychimer 09/29/10 - 09:49 am
0
0

In the late 1980s my son was

In the late 1980s my son was in basic training and got sick. He woke up in an ambulance on the way to a hospital. They checked him and gave him meds, then sent him back to work in an office. He called me asking me to help him. I called congressmen, Red Cross, and whoever would listen to me.The next day his commanding officer called me and had a little talk with me and said my son was fine. I said no he is not, and something better not happen to him because of his illness. The next morning my son slipped and called me and said the governor was calling the base wanting to know how he was. Then the army said he was getting a medical discharge and would be home in 4 wks. That was not good enough for me. I kept up the calls, and the Red Cross was the main one that helped get him home in 2 wks. It took about a month for him to get well.

Quack Quack Quack
0
Points
Quack Quack Quack 09/29/10 - 09:51 am
0
0

My heart & Prayers go out to

My heart & Prayers go out to Mrs. Burner and her beautiful daughters.

JB
0
Points
JB 09/29/10 - 09:52 am
0
0

It almost sickens me to see

It almost sickens me to see you all on here talking complaining about Obama and crying about government run healthcare. This soldier is dead because his command didn't care to give him the treatment he needed. His family is mourning the loss of a loved one who died needlessly. Please rally elsewhere to push your political agendas.

happychimer
13231
Points
happychimer 09/29/10 - 09:54 am
0
0

The army accepted my son,

The army accepted my son, knowing he had asthma. He had an attack in his sleep and went into cardiac arrest. So much for medical care for our soldiers. They did not care, and then tried to tell me he was fine.

happychimer
13231
Points
happychimer 09/29/10 - 09:56 am
0
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JB you said it! They also

JB you said it! They also think military sticks together no matter what. That is wrong. If your loved one is denied treatment and his life depends on that treatment, that is no time to side with the military.

Chrissy
0
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Chrissy 09/29/10 - 10:00 am
0
0

this is not the fault of

this is not the fault of Obama care -its the direct result of poor military care . I was with the British army for several years and can tell you that military leaders are not geared up for illness though their injury car is second to none . Would it have been different if the government controlled health care ? I don't know . It certainly couldn't have been worse! My heart goes out to Verena and her family . They need answers . In fact every military wife and parent needs answers to this if trust in the armed forces is to be mantained

happychimer
13231
Points
happychimer 09/29/10 - 10:04 am
0
0

Mrs. Burner, I am sorry for

Mrs. Burner, I am sorry for your loss. Don't give up. Make waves for whoever tries to stand in your way of finding out the truth.

C2Soldier
0
Points
C2Soldier 09/29/10 - 10:23 am
0
0

pommom>> I agree. The media

pommom>> I agree. The media is hyping this up because it is a Soldier. Hospitals all around this nation misdiagnose patients daily and you never hear about it. The human body isn't like a car. You can't just hook them up to a machine and follow the codes. MTFs on the FOB are geared to handle mostly trauma. The Army Healthcare System is one of the best in the world. MEDCOM has a very strict credentialing process for providers and the equipment used by the staff is the best on the market. The Command is the one who will have to answer for this NCOs death by completing a DA 285 (AGAR) report. The Military is very agressive when investigating injured Soldiers and deaths. In my experience there will be some changes in the SOP based on this issue. However, you will never read the results in the paper due to HIPPA.

Bird
0
Points
Bird 09/29/10 - 02:25 pm
0
0

What an amazing women. Can

What an amazing women. Can you imagine, losing your husband to causes that were PREVENTABLE while he was away protecting our country?? I am disgusted by this talk of health care and I don't really care why the media is "hyping this up". Every wrongful death that could have been prevented should be discussed and procedures set up so that such cases do not happen again. The Army should be made aware that they are solely responsible for this tragedy and therefore bare the weight of fatally wounding a father, best friend, son, brother, husband and solider.

alfredblueflamee
10
Points
alfredblueflamee 09/29/10 - 10:55 am
0
0

The part about the children

The part about the children being counseled. The series of articles that recently where featured about the dead and the stories about the families of the eighteen now nineteen soldiers that have died in Iraq. Shouldn't the counseling of the entire family be done with any professional that is sworn to give the life of that professional to whatever mission that the person is directed to perform in the line of duty. Death is certain in life period. However as a whole most are taught to ignore death as a first line of avoiding death. Boy Scouts are taught to, "Be Prepared". I tried to read everyone of the stories that where featured. I may have missed some. But no where have I seen the level of preparation that would equal much less hurt, and confussion of those left behind and totally caught of guard with the reality of what conflict and war are most all about. Life is mandated by death. Few are ever prepared for death which has to many ways to come too be counted. Hence one thing is certain. Any closeness to a honorable death is philosophically ranked as the very beat way to die.

No family seems ever prepared. Counseling should come full circle to the entire family with each enlistment at the very beginning of each term of professional training to give one's life for what ever. Even if the death happened while the soldier was asleep.

People will die un-expectantly with each tick of the clock. Few even choose to be prepared for death. Much less take advantage of the certainty of dying. Dwell on the strenghth and you can get power from the weakening certainty of pure fate. .5 million???... Help this world and your our world be a better place to live and die.

Be Prepared.

ruudvonbaron
0
Points
ruudvonbaron 09/29/10 - 11:20 am
0
0

We're from the government and

We're from the government and we're here to help......and yes of course we really care about you........you should vote for us and pay more taxes because the government knows what is best for you and we can take care of you.......

JesusIsComing
2
Points
JesusIsComing 09/29/10 - 11:40 am
0
0

anneli schubert - First of

anneli schubert - First of all, when writing to an English language paper, use English. Second, please do not preach to us about German health care. This would not have happened in America either. This happened in Iraq - where you will not find any German soldiers, by the way. It is a tragedy and perhaps malpractice - but German medical care was nowhere to be found either!

C2Soldier
0
Points
C2Soldier 09/29/10 - 12:07 pm
0
0

Guten Tag Frau Schubert

Guten Tag Frau Schubert benutzen bitte Sie Englisch, damit andere Sie verstehen können. God I love online translators. lol

dani
12
Points
dani 09/29/10 - 01:39 pm
0
0

Shouldn't we wait for the

Shouldn't we wait for the cause of death before anyONE at all jumps to conclusions. What we see is not usually the whole picture.

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 09/29/10 - 01:59 pm
0
0

"Why are you bringing up

"Why are you bringing up Obama and the healthcare plan? This travesty has NOTHING to do with that." This has EVERYTHING to do with what we will see when Obamacare kicks in, if it does. We have the opportunity to stop it in this election. Aside from that, this is an awful and terrible tragedy and the wive is probably correct in that he didn't HAVE to die except I believe that there is appointed unto man a time to die; however I also believe that human circumstances enter into that date with death and looking back on a situation is always easier after events happen than looking forward with a prophetic eye. I do hope that she does learn what really caused his death and why no one detected it. As far as the army having the best care in the world, the army is like other human run institutions and mistakes, misdiagnoses are made. Sorry for the terrible loss; no one of that age should die of untreated causes.

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 09/29/10 - 02:02 pm
0
0

loosing= the act of making

loosing= the act of making "not tight"
losing = the act of having a loss -

Bird
0
Points
Bird 09/29/10 - 02:29 pm
0
0

wive= to marry (a woman);

wive= to marry (a woman); take for a wife
wife = a married woman; specif., a woman in her relationship to her husband

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