After being lit on fire by subordinate, Army officer says toxic leadership is failing her

Army officer Katie Blanchard (Facebook)

A US Army medical officer who was set on fire and horribly disfigured by a civilian health care provider at a military hospital has spoken out against the hospital’s toxic workplace- and the leadership which allegedly tried to suppress her.

A nurse in the US Army, First Lieutenant Katie Ann Blanchard was assaulted in 2016 by civilian subordinate Clifford Currie, who set her aflame and cut her with a razor while on duty at Munson Army Health Center in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Horribly burned on over twenty percent of her body, Blanchard has endured endless pain and permanent disfigurement- but has soldiered on with the help of her friends, family and husband, who is also an officer in the Army.

The trial against Currie, which supposedly kicked off at the beginning of the month, is underway, though the signs that Currie was dangerous were apparent even before the attack.

According to legal documents, one employee recalls Blanchard screaming “l told you this would happen” after Currie doused her with accelerant, set her alight and attacked her with a razor.

In fact, Blanchard spoke out at the end of June about how Currie should not have been allowed to see patients at all, due to mental instability.

“Clifford Currie had previously threatened patients and it progressed to a point for a bit he was taken out of direct patient care and then without thought he was replaced to his full position with no restraints or checks,” she said on her social media page. “I fought for this to not to happen but lost that fight too. The Munson Army Health leadership is responsible for letting the situation get as far as it did. Especially LTC Guirand who continually let him come in after hours and told me to not [pursue] any disciplinary actions.I knew in my heart someone would end up hurt.”

Frustrated why she was being suppressed while being given limited information and accessibility considerations, she asked, “Are toxic environments just the norm in the Army now?”

The day prior, she expressed her frustration -as have many warriors before her- at the mismanagement taking place in the Army’s Warrior Transition Battalions, which are supposed to assist in treating soldiers in order to return them to duty or re-integrate them with society.

“When I was in training at Fort [Sam Houston, Texas,] after college I was proud to be part of the Army and I was overjoyed with the way we were told the WTB treated our wounded warriors,” she reflected. “I opted to transfer here because I truly believed this was the ‘best’ place to be. I have been so disappointed with the way the WTB treats our Wounded Warriors.”

“These men and women all are volunteers, they would give their lives for our country,” she added. “To see the way they are treated like numbers and the non compassionate care they and I receive. It’s not care it a series of boxes that need to be checked. It’s just another let down.”

Blanchard herself was stripped of what she felt was essential medical care.

“As a WTB member I can’t even be there for my own multi disciplinary meeting, I am granted 10 [minutes] at the end after they have made all the decisions,” she complained. “After being released from surgery I am asked to run papers around. Then today they told me I no longer qualify for a non medical attendant. I should stretch myself, they don’t care about my memory loss and my mental health that bleeds into my physical abilities aren’t their concern.”

“They finally agreed to let me have help if I wear my compression garments 23 hours a day, which I currently don’t because of the 100 degree weather and so that I can be active with my children. The WTB is not what it claims to be and can’t be until they start treating soldiers like they are patients too.”

As the trial against her assailant – who is being charged with one count of assault with intent to commit murder- warms up, Blanchard seems at a loss to accurately determine who is -and isn’t- on her side.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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