Navy admits mistake in docking pay of hazed sailor diagnosed with PTSD

Norfolk, Va. – Hazed and tormented by his shipmates, a local sailor came to find that seeking help meant the Navy taking away thousands in pay.

So his family asked NewsChannel 3’s Laurie Simmons to take action.

“We are struggling to live, struggling to eat food.” Struggling, even though her husband serves in the United States Navy.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Tubbs should be able to support his family, but his wife Sarah has been staring at an empty bank account for months.

“It’s not right, it’s not fair, I shouldn’t be in this situation because my husband has PTSD,” said Tubbs.

The Navy started docking the family’s pay in August after doctors at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth diagnosed him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Their records say it was an effect of severe hazing during Chris’s time aboard the USS Enterprise.

“He was hit in the groin with fists, wrenches, nuts, bolts, anything you could find, even a hammer,” said Tubbs.

Because of his fragile mental state, doctors prevented Chris from deploying with the Truman, his new ship, and barred him from handling any weapons.

But that “limited duty” classification ultimately became his family’s undoing.

Chris suddenly lost his nuclear operator status and all the monetary perks that came along with it.

“They told us, ‘you are in an overpaid status, you owe the government $34,000,’” said Tubbs.

The Navy quickly started taking Chris’s bonus earned three years ago, docking $1,400 off their August paycheck without any notification.

When they tried to get help through his chain of command:

“We were given a waiver, but that could take 10 months, we don’t have 10 months of money to provide for my child and my family,” said Tubbs.

Frustrated by the runaround, Sarah turned to NewsChannel 3 for help.

“I’m coming forward to you all because I have nowhere to turn, I’m at my wits end with the military,” said Tubbs.

So we took action pouring through pages of Navy regulations that govern re-enlistment bonuses.

A Selective Re-enlistment Bonus policy update sent out in March of 2013 says “Repayment will not be sought when a member fails to complete an SRB contract in the following circumstances: incurs an injury or illness not due to misconduct, under specified conditions, resulting in separation or retirement for disability.”

Chris’s case is currently under review for possible medical separation, yet the bonus was docked before any final decisions have been made.

The Department of Defense’s own Financial Management Regulation says in Volume 7A, Chapter 2, “As a general rule, repayment action will not be pursued in situations in which the member’s inability to fulfill specified service conditions related to a pay or benefit is due to circumstances determined reasonably beyond the member’s control.”

The Tubbs feel PTSD clearly fits into that category.

“There needs to be no repercussions for coming forward for help,” said Tubbs.

So NewsChannel 3 brought the family’s story straight to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert during his recent visit to the USS George H.W. Bush, asking why sailors would want to come forward with mental health issues when they know their careers will be affected, and they will have to pay back tens of thousands of dollars.

“Because their health might be at risk, that’s why,” said Greenert. “We’ve seen some hard lessons, where people have hesitated coming forward, and those consequences are worse than any bonus.”

Not quite what the family of this sailor wanted to hear.

But just days after that interview with the CNO on October 23, the Navy suddenly contacted NewsChannel 3 – and changed their tune.

“We have stopped recoupment, and are taking a look at how and to what degree we can reimburse him for the money already taken out,” said Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Navy’s Chief of Information Officer.

In an exclusive interview with NewsChannel 3, Kirby tried to explain why this big mistake happened in the first place, and why PO2 Tubbs was not alerted to his pay being docked.

“You are asking the same questions we are, the same questions we would like to know the answers to. Clearly some things were not passed onto this individual, or if they were, they were not passed on clearly enough,” said Rear Adm. Kirby. “In this particular case, we are taking a hard look at it ourselves, to see what if any mistakes we made…we are going to do everything we can, to make sure this particular sailor, Petty Officer Tubbs, gets the entitlements that he deserves.”

The Tubbs are just relieved that their next paycheck will be back to normal.

“It’s good to know that we have everything taken care of,” said Tubbs.

So in the end, why did the Navy finally do right by this family?

“It’s the fact that I came forward and asked you all to help us,” said Tubbs. “Taking action, it means a lot, because we don’t have to worry anymore.”

36 comments

  • Navy Guy

    IGNORANCE! This isn’t even 1/4 of the story!!!! I was there! Lies, cries and exaggeration amok. This is the reason the military is full of people afraid to hurt anyone’s feelings. ITS THE MILITARY! Grow up. Stop trying to capitalize on disability pay checks. PTSD? Give me a break!

    • mwd

      Tubbs was also about to go to NJP for blazing stuff. he went and got evaluated to try to get off the boat before he would get masted.

  • 2AMR

    this guy would have claimed ptsd no matter what ge did. he never belonged in the military and didnt want to earn his pay. i wish they would publish the amount of money lost and careers ended bc if this guy

  • Dolph

    All I gotta say is he was a bad nub. It takes ace retain caliber of person to destroy multiple careers. Karma is an awesome thing.

  • 3 plant

    I was there when all of that happened. I completely agree, his wife hasn’t even told a half of the story. What about him walking around and nut tapping people? Did that come up at all? Just the wife looking for an excuse to get money for something they don’t deserve.

  • .........

    News channel 3, I love your program but PLEASE learn about the whole story before taking action. This sailor’s reenlistment bonus is a bonus for being a nuke. When recieving a bonus, you get half up front & then installments for the remainder, over a number of years. Is this sailor still a nuke? Probably not, since he has been diagnosed with PTSD. That means he has not earned the bonus money the Navy paid him previously. Why should this sailor keep the money that he is not earning?? The sailors that were accused of hazing have been punished by their CO at the time. They have to live with this just like this sailor has to learn you can’t have money you did not earn.

    • Laurie Simmons

      Thank you for watching…and you bring up very valid points about the bonus, but in the Navy’s guidelines, it says very clearly that for a disability, injury or illness stemming from something out of the sailor’s control, and not due to misconduct, the sailor will keep the paid portion of the bonus, but lose any future portions. This family feels PTSD meets those guidelines, and once we brought this to the Navy’s attention, they agreed. Watch the full story tonight at 11.

  • Enterprise

    A young sailor was bullied at work. The offenders were fined, placed on restriction, demoted, and de-nuked. Their careers were effectively terminated. The young sailor was removed from his ship in time to skip out on 2 deployments, while NOT performing the duties he obligated to, and NOT learning his job. Case closed. Please, lets not continue to reward victimhood, of which there is already an unending supply…

  • 2MMR

    “It’s not right, it’s not fair. I shouldn’t be in this situation because my husband has PTSD,” says his wife.

    I’m awestruck at how selfish this is, typical of her. They aren’t paying back any money they didn’t already receive and blow on vehicles.

  • 0000

    He served honorably onboard the ENTERPRISE as well as the ship he was on when he lost the pay, I’m sure. I’m sure he would’ve deployed with the ENTERPRISE had he had the chance. Didn’t he deploy with the ship he just left?

      • EnterpriseSailor

        He conveneintly got PTSD 14 MONTHS after the NJP because no one liked him for good reason. This happened to be 2 days before a 8 month deployment…must be nice

        • truesailor

          Uh, no. He didn’t go to NJP, but, did get PTSD 2 days before the 8 month deployment. I’m sure that’s just coincidence. Ms. Simmons, any comment?

          • Laurie

            You are correct, he did go to seek help at a Navy hospital two days before the Truman deployment, at the urging of his wife, who was afraid he would commit suicide. We have seen all his medical records, and he has sought mental health treatment in the past from civilian doctors, because he wanted to keep his job. When he came forward in July, Navy doctors are the ones that diagnosed him with PTSD and put him on limited duty, barring him from deployment. It will all be in the story tonight at 11, so please tune in for the full story.

  • EnterpriseSailor

    He should’ve read his reenlisment contract. Clearly states that if you loose your NEC due to certain medical conditions that you’re not eligible to receive your bonus anymore. Since you receive half of your bonus up front that is the equivalent of the first 3 years of the reenlistment, any subsequent installments(each October) would be 1 year beyond the 3 year mark. Since he clearly couldn’t do his job and didn’t make it even 3 years he is responsible for paying it back.

  • EnterpriseSailor

    Since he received half of his Bonus up front for a 6 year reenlistment, that is for 3 years of the reenlistment. Each installment he subsequently received in October would be an amount beyond that 3 year point. Since he couldn’t do his job because he came up with “PTSD” 14 MONTHS after the NJP, and conveinently 2 days before an 8 month deployment, he is not eligible to receive his bonus. End of story.

  • Deege

    Last two years at my husbands command were utter HELL! And not getting a pay check for almost a year because he called out the CO and is still waiting for the formal IG investigation to be complete a year later …. Ya know this guy may have been not a stellar sailor but these COs get away with utter BS and don’t care what they do to the families too… Bogus bomb making threats and race hate caused our family HELL Navy has yet to own up to it…..

  • Inside info

    I did some digging and you should check your facts about him “jumping at the chance to serve on the Enterprise.” That is a completely false statement, based on the selection process for junior sailors receiving orders and this particular sailor’s dream sheet.

  • 1rcer

    So, you didn’t want to do your job, re-enlisted, then decided to get out… and think you deserve your re-enlistment bonus for the extra time you committed to and then didn’t do…. um…. no.

  • some guy

    He doesn’t have PTSD from the “hazing” he is depressed because nobody likes the guy after ruining the careers of several sailors for some BS about him being ” tormented at the hands of his fellow nuclear operators”.

  • former nuke

    He was going to an outside doctor in an attempt to hide this from the navy and in such violated the original contract in which he signed. If he knew this diagnosis prior to his reenlistment, then he fraudulently entered into said contract and thus his reenlistment is to be nullified and he should be dishonerably discharged from the Navy and made to return all enlistment and reenlistment bonuses.

  • Former 'Prise Nuke

    The real question that should be asked here is shouldn’t there be any easier way for the Navy to get rid of dirtbags like this guy, instead of trying to find loopholes to reward him for being a burden on his fellow sailors? Additionally, why is it so hard for the press to actually show the WHOLE truth of the case instead of just the sensationalized abbreviated version that paints a lowlife like this as a victim?

  • Greg

    I may not know the whole truth since I wasn’t there but I served on Subs as a MM1/SS Nuke for 11 years. In that time I saw lots of hazing. Some was just clowning around but there were other people that truly got off on hurting people physically and mentally. I never agreed with this frat house type BS. It is not needed or helpful to develop a good sailor. There are enough things going on with quals, drills etc that will stress a sailor out to see if he is going to fit without taping him up and physically harming him.

    I handled the abusers the way that I thought they should be handled. I abused them when I saw it happen or when they tried to do it to me. A light tap to pin on dolphins is ok but a full on punch to break the dolphins and make them bleed is not. I have thrown a guy across a table for doing that. Being a large guy I was able to convince most of these bozo’s that performing these sadistic acts around me or to me would not be healthy for them.

    There probably is more to this story.If those guys got NJP for hazing there was probably a good reason and this guy was not the only one that suffered at the hands of those ignorant guys.

    But I also have seen people use the system and get out of deployments or the Navy for BS reasons. So there is probably more to that story too.

    Try to be the person that stops this type of BS instead of going along with it. There is enough stress on you already in the Navy and being a Nuke.

  • 11

    Obviously there is more to this story then what’s being told. The only people that know the truth are the sailors that were there for the “hazing.” Maybe it’s a good thing the Tubbs got the money because this story and his (along with his wife’s) reputation will follow him forever. No one in their right mind in the military is going to want to work with him in fear of being reported about something.

  • OSC(SW) Ret.

    Navy bonuses should never be part of your income!!!! It is a bonus….There are PO2’s (non-nuke) on shore duty (no sea pay) that did not get an enlistment bonus and they support their families fine. I joined the Navy in 1990, checked onboard my first ship as an E-1. Did not receive a bonus, had my first Child when I started my first Shore tour in 1994 as an E-5. Retired Chief after 20 years and raised 2 children. Never once did we go without and never once did we ask for help. No WIC or anything. We lived within our means……..

  • Milwife

    Warning: Mrs. Tubbs I understand how this looks like the situation is solved having his pay reinstated. That is not how the USN works. Admiral Kirby said he has suspended the pay until they can conduct a full investigation. This may lead to a Captain/Admiral mass instead to see if your husband has contributed to his own PTSD. Bonuses are often repaid, however I understand how you see this is the medical issue. My husband served as a MMN (Machinist Mate-Nuclear) onboard a sub. Above Greg described the situation very clear. Its not unheard of the childish frat behavior. I’ve seen it and I’m sure you have as well when the “guys” get together. If you bought new cars or a house w/the money you may want to refinance them to have money. You will want to speak w/Navy Legal & a law firm to represent him during this time. Unfortunately you don’t have the cash right now to retain a lawyer. In our experiences above you don’t challenge the USN unless you have proof on both sides before going to the media. Wishing you and your child best wishes. They don’t always tell us both sides when they come home to us. They do try to separate the ship from home which in its own self causes PTSD.

  • navyvet

    Some of you people are ignorant, disrespectful, and can’t believe the Navy allows you to become leaders of the USN. These comments really show how uneducated you are to Navy policies. Yes we all sign contacts and Navy regulations trump these contracts. If you have issues with the policies please regard your concerns to the CNO and not towards the wife whose main concern is feeding her family. If more sailors lived by the rules and regulations that are in black and white we’ll have more upstanding sailors. Most of you claim to have been there and you should have been along with the rest in NJP. The rest of this nonsense is irrelevant because the facts ARE EVERYONE HAVE THEIR PANTIES IN A BUNCH BECAUSE HE ROLLED OVER ON THE PEOPLE THAT WERE HAZING. GROW A PAIR AND STOP WHINING ABOUT SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T CONCERN YOU. TEND TO YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND THE WORLD WOULD BE BETTER!

  • don't spend what you haven't earned

    hmm bah for e-5 sailor is 1518 in norfolk he’s at least been in 4 years so his base pay is 2529+, and if he is in a shore command atm he is getting BAS 349… so living within your means minus the 1400 is not a bad idea. i agree with the other commenters about not factoring a bonus as part of the income because if you spend something that you haven’t earned completely the government will take it all back.

  • 2AMR

    i was there full the whole blow up and can tell you that i never did things i didnt like to other people. i witnessed this guy do the same things he gad done to him to other junior guys. him “jumping to the chance to do the last deployment” was his way to not have to do many in his career. but, he couldnt even handle doing one (which is part of the job) and figured a way out of it. then conveniently gets diagnosed right before his new ship deployed. i am no way biased bc i never liked how i was treated when i was junior and didnt do the things i didnt like to junior guys when i became a leader. this situation drove me away from reenlisting bc i saw what the navy was becoming. after this happened, no junior guy would do their job bc they would claim they were being mistreated.

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