by The Associated Press, May 29, 2006
SALEM, Ore. — The Army has launched an investigation into an AWOL soldier’s charges that he was misled by a Salem-based recruiter.

Capt. Brian Peterson said his investigation was prompted by media reports in which Jeremy Crawford said he was lied to by a recruiter who allegedly told him that the Army would supply him with medication for anxiety and depression.

“Any time there’s any suspicion of fraudulent behavior, anything of that nature, we always investigate,” Peterson said.

Crawford, 31, of Salem, said that Sgt. Renny Lutz, a recruiter at the Army’s South Salem recruiting station, assured him that he would receive psychiatric medication at basic training.

Crawford also said Lutz advised him not to disclose his medical history during a pre-enlistment physical exam, and that Lutz suggested he stop taking his medication before the exam so that it would not be detected by blood testing.

After Crawford enlisted and was sent to Fort Benning, Ga., he said, military personnel told him that they were not allowed to dispense mood-stabilizing drugs.

Crawford said he fled basic training April 8 because he felt as if he were losing his mind.

Lutz has not commented about Crawford’s allegations, citing privacy laws.

Crawford told The Statesman-Journal newspaper of Salem that he welcomed the Army investigation. “I’m definitely glad they’re looking into it,” he said. “I’m not lying, so I have nothing to hide.”

Under Army procedures, Crawford’s history of depression and anxiety should have disqualified him from service, Peterson said.

“If the medical records had been divulged,” that is, Peterson said. “As with all people who join the military, medical records have to be completely divulged. That’s the little cog that we’re trying to investigate and figure out what happened. Why weren’t those medical records processed?”

Crawford said he heeded the recruiter’s advice about not divulging the critical medical information because he didn’t want to sabotage his Army service before it started.

The unemployed, divorced father of three said he envisioned making a fresh start in the military.

With proper medication, Crawford said, he thought he’d have no problems graduating from boot camp and going on to serve in the Army infantry.

He could face punishment for going AWOL, ranging from a court-martial and jail time to an other-than-honorable discharge.

Peterson said his findings will be submitted to Oregon Army officials, who will decide whether to take action or order an additional investigation.