In early 2018, an active duty member of the U.S. Military was scheduled for an operation required to fix a serious medical issue resulting from prior combat deployments. While awaiting the operation in the waiting area of the military medical facility, the patient’s wife, sister-in-law, and children were approached by the surgeon (and military officer) scheduled to perform the operations. The patient’s wife later recounted exactly what happened in an email to MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein:
He said these exact words to us which we remember very well: “Kneel with me now and all join hands. We pray to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to guide and bless my hands for the (name of medical procedure withheld) to bring health to (name and rank of active duty patient withheld).” He then left quickly and never even looked in our eyes.
We are a Christian family and attend a (Protestant denomination withheld) church off base. My sister who was with us is married to a Jewish man. She and I both felt violated and horrified. Our kids are young and did not understand what had just happened. But we did. We felt sick.
While the operation progressed, the patient’s wife relayed this incident to the surgeon’s supervisor. The supervisor immediately determined that what the surgeon had done was well within his First Amendment rights. The patient’s wife informed this supervisor that her husband had deployed into combat numerous times and as a result had been wounded and decorated for protecting the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, the patient’s wife informed the surgeon’s supervisor that she felt ashamed, embarrassed, and insulted by the forced prayer her family were required to participate in. The supervisor stated there was nothing to be done and left.
Based upon her awareness of another active duty service member who had sought and received help from MRFF, the patient’s wife decided to take appropriate action. What transpired is detailed in an email received on February 25, 2018 from this patient’s wife:
I found the website online with my phone and called Mikey Weinstein. To my surprise he answered his own phone. He was so nice. I was still crying and scared. He said he would take care of this. He promised. I went back to the waiting area with my sister and my kids. My sister was scared and so was I about what had happened. I mean after all the person we are complaining about has his scalpels and his hands in my husband’s body right this moment.
Less than an hour later another higher ranking officer with the hospital came in to see us and apologized for what the surgeon had made us do. He said he had gotten a call from Mr. Weinstein and that after the operation was done this surgeon would no longer be involved with any medical services for my husband.
I asked if this surgeon would be punished? I asked about the surgeon’s supervisor who refused to help us? I was worried they might be doing this forced prayer behavior to others. The higher ranking officer said that he could not discuss any disciplinary matters with me. But he assured me that this surgeon would not be allowed to ever do these things again to other patients and their families. I just wonder how widespread all of this is?
My husband made it through the procedure and is doing well. We have new doctors now. They are helpful and nice. My sister and I decided not to tell my husband about all this until he recuperated some from the operation. We just told him (number withheld) days ago. He is very mad at the surgeon and his immediate supervisor and is proud that we fought back even during the operation.
I want to thank the MRFF and Mr. Weinstein for standing up for us. And for helping us so fast!
If there is any more fallout from this we will call first for more help to MRFF right away. We will always be thankful for what you did when nobody else could help. Or would help. We will never forget this.