By Debbie Gregory.
The Army is reconsidering the case of Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Brumit, a Green Beret who was paralyzed from the chest down last year when he dove headfirst into shallow water to save a drowning girl.
Brumit now faces an “other-than-honorable” discharge from the service that could threaten his medical care.
In July, 2015, a sudden storm at Crab Island churned up winds and crashing waves. Hearing screams that a child was drowning, Brumit rushed to help. Without a second thought, he dove off a pontoon boat near his post at Eglin Air Force Base, after spotting the 13 year old girl struggling in the surf.
“When I dove in, the water seemed to slip away and the sand bar was right there, and there was no turning back, and I hit my head,” Brumit said. “I tried to shake it off … and realized I’d heard something break. I thought, oh my God, I’ve broken my neck.”
After his head hit the sand, a fellow soldier pulled Brumit’s body onto a surfboard to wait for help. Other boaters saved the girl.
The Army deemed his actions were reckless and negligent because of alcohol and drug use.
Authorities determined Brumit had a 0.1 percent blood alcohol content when he decided to jump into the water and found traces of cocaine in his system. Army officials obtained Brumit’s toxicology report without his permission as they visited him in the hospital, leading to the veteran’s year-long battle against a potential discharge.
Media attention on the case led Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo to urge U.S. Army Human Resources Command to “reconsider” the determination.
In a letter to Army Secretary Eric Fanning, California Rep. Duncan Hunter is pushing for an honorable discharge for Brumit.
Brumit suffered from PTSD and TBI, and had self-enrolled in a drug and alcohol program. But the Army refused to acknowledge that he had any issues, and ordered him to return to duty.