Family's Fight to Bring Son Home from Boot Camp Isn't Over

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A letter home on a tiny piece of paper is how Dee DeLancey discovered his son Ian's dream to join the United States Army ended before it began.

"It was disheartening. I actually didn't know how to react at first," Ian said.

Ian passed his initial screenings and left West Virginia for Fort Benning in Georgia.

When he arrived there, he learned he had a growth on his eardrum, something that wasn't caught before he left. He was losing his hearing, and it disqualified him.

"They told me I needed immediate attention, and I could go deaf because of it," Ian recalled.

In that letter, Ian told his parents about the ordeal and wrote, "I will call as soon as I can."

"I assumed they are going to send him home," Dee DeLancey said. "You keep waiting. You think this is the day someone will come to the airport and say come and get him."

Weeks went by, and a concerned father heard nothing. "Had a lot of sleepless nights," he said.

He finally started calling Fort Benning.

"I finally got through to the area where Ian was, and they agreed to put him on the phone. "

The call didn't provide much, if any, information.

So Dee DeLancey decided to take matters into his own hands.

He called and wrote to U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall.

He also spread the word on social media.

"If you are a parent, you understand this -- that no one is listening to me, my son is sick and nobody is doing anything," Dee DeLancey said. "I understand that if the government doesn't want to do the surgery, that is fine, just send him home. "

That original letter from Ian was dated Feb. 21.

On April 12, his family was able to pick him up at Yeager Airport in Charleston.

According to a spokesperson with the U.S. Army, it can take 72 hours to six weeks to send someone home.

The reasons vary from person-to-person but include legal and financial issues, as well as time for counseling.

"That they can keep them for six weeks, with no treatment at all," Dee Delancey said. "It's the policy, it's the procedure, and that is what I want to change."

Ian had his first doctor's appointment and will be headed to see a hearing specialist.

Dee DeLancey said things with Ian's health are squared away. He plans to ask federal lawmakers to hold a hearing in West Virginia.

"I want the senators, the congressmen to have a hearing testimony to put on the record that parents are going through this all over the country," he said. "People who have gone through this process, and it just shouldn't happen."

Ian says he has concerns for other young men and women who were disqualified but still at Fort Benning. He believes some of them are in worse situations than he is.

He doesn't think he would be home yet, if it had not been for the work of his father pushing people to make it happen.

"I just kind of assumed, if you had an issue, you would be sent home," Dee DeLancey said. "Good Lord, you work hard enough to get them there. It doesn't take long to put them on a bus to ship them, but they couldn't put him on a bus and send him home."


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