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(Too long of an intro?) Skip down to the time I arrived and read from there.
One summer day I was alerted to headlights coming up the driveway, little did I know what was about to happen.
I looked out the window in my bedroom and saw headlights pulling into the driveway, this is unusual as my family at the time lived in a remote ranch area with only a few neighbors nearby also it was around 4:00 Am in the morning.
I run into the house and alert my parents that there is a vehicle pulling into the driveway (my memory is a little blurry so bear with me) my parents get up quickly and pretend to not know what's going on, I go to the back door to see who was coming up the driveway and my dad rushes to the front door of the house and blocks the entrance, as I make my way to the back room where the back door is located to my surprise, a transporter is waiting outside the door, or blocking it, (unable to remember which) then another transporter comes from the other side blocking me in (he came in the front door) They do this boxing in method just in case the subject (me) decided to try and run.
So we're all in the back room, one of the transporters tells me to put on my shoes, so I comply after asking what was going on I'm very confused at this point, but my body is in no condition to run, I literally looked like one of those Ethiopian children you see in pictures, ribs sticking out, all skin a bones.
Anyway, I am transported to their car and I am told to get in the back seat, passenger side, so I comply.
I remember looking out the door before they shut it and my mother telling me that I am going away for awhile, I think her and I both cried.
The door was shut and my parents and the transporters talk briefly and away we go to the Reno airport to catch a plane. I was mostly quiet for the trip, I do remember asking one question "Where am I going?" I got a brief "Boarding school comment" from one of the transporters, So I thought to myself, well, I guess a little adventure couldn't hurt, since I was withering away anyway. Bear in mind I had had no sleep the night before, and my adrenaline and curiosity was at peak so I was not able to sleep at all during the trip.
We arrive at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and board a plane, so I use the restroom real quick and away we go.
Our plane departs and we land in Las Vegas to switch flights to Kansas City, MO.
We had to wait for a little while for our flight to prepare, so while we were waiting one of the transporters (shortish white guy, brown hair)starts to play some sort of video poker close to where we were sitting, I think the native guy asks me if I would like to have something to eat, a slice of pizza or something and he tells me "this is the last time for awhile that you will have an opportunity to have this kind of food" But I respectfully decline his offer as I was not hungry. (depressed people have trouble eating)
Both guys were fairly nice to me.
The time comes to board our flight, so we start heading for the terminal to board the plane, to be honest I kinda felt like a bad ass because I had two guys who looked like body guards standing around me at all times.
We board the plane and lift off to Kansas City International Airport.
We arrive, get off the plane and walk to the rent-a-car booth, we head to the rental car and start to drive out of the city to the tiny town of Kidder.
As we pull up to the facility, I see the main building and feel sort of relived "this place doesn't look so bad" I say to myself, that is until we rounded the corner to the other side of the building. Fear strikes me in my mind as we pull up to a fenced off area "The Beach" we called it, to see 3 drill Sargents in black/white camo BDU wear and big round DSGT hats on the inside of the fence.
We enter the fenced off area and immediately after entering my intake started.
I was yelled at, screamed at, billed in the face.
They started going over making me learn the 10 general orders of the program.
every time I messed up they would make me run a down and back to the end building and back. I eventually got tired of this and got a wild hair and got a little disobedient, as soon as those words left my mouth I was on the ground with 3 drill Sargents tying me into pretzel, one of them sat on my back I think it was DSGT "H1", while one of the other started to bend my legs up and backwards, DSGT "H2" bending my spine in the opposite direction it is suppose to go. Now bear in mind I am very frail due to the condition my body was in, I was so afraid they were going to break my back and I was in a lot of pain, so I pretended to have a seizure to get them to stop, I rolled my eyes into the back of my head and started jerking my body around as if I were having a seizure.
I think I scared them because they got off me immediately and let me lay there for awhile, deciding what they should do next.
They decided to wrap up my intake and took me into the building, they told me to take off all my clothes, one of the JR. Staff, A cadet that was about to finish the program turned on the shower and I was instructed to get in it, everyone still yelling at me of course, but not interacting with me physically. So after that is over, I am in a state of shock at this point so I don't remember much after that point besides going down to requisitions and getting a bin full of clothes and other items I needed as a Cadet and they placed me in Bravo bay. That day my entire bay was punished because I wasn't able to do a single pushup, due to them tearing a muscle in my elbow, also I had very little muscle mass if any at all.
That night I fell into catatonic state, I'm not sure how long I was in that state, but all I remember was looking up at the camera and the ceiling.
Eventually, I start to get stronger and learn the ropes.
A short while later my legs begin to swell like balloons, I kept putting it on my sick report, but it took about a week, maybe longer to get it looked at by an EMT, during that week I was unable to run or do the exercises properly, the Sargents kept making comments about my legs to each other "no wonder he can't run, his legs are swelled up like balloons" and laughing to each other making jokes and nasty comments, at one point one of the Sargents put his boot on my chest and let his weight down on top of me, looked me in the eyes and smiled evilly, knowing there was nothing I could do about it.
When my family rep finally took me to the hospital the doctors ran tests on my legs to see if I had any blood clots, they wanted to do more tests and keep me over night, but the EMT at the time (I'm not really sure she was even qualified to put a band-aid on an injury) threw a fit over it, so I wasn't able to get checked out further. (Which I should have because my legs were swelled up, they were huge!) They ended up putting me on no lower body P.T and called it good, basically told me to drink water and get over my drama. The Sargent that stepped on my chest, ignored the doctor sticker on my canteen and made me do lower body P.T anyway. That guy was mean.
I wanted to tell the doctors to help me and that they were abusing us, but I was so afraid of what they would have done to me when I got back to camp.
I suppose it has something to do with Stockholm syndrome. I think they actually used Stockholm syndrome and fear as a cover, they has us zombified, terrified and broken.
Eventually, I finally got stronger and was able to do all of the exercises, they became more of an annoyance when the pain tolerance built up and a fit body made the constant nonstop exercise easier. I kind of want to say I just got used to it, but I'm not sure if that would be the right words to use.
I want to go over a list here to tell what I witnessed and experienced at Thayer Learning Center
During my stay, I noticed that they broke 3 cadets wrists.
They lied to parents about injuries related to abuse. One particular Sargent there who was the wrist breaker was promoted for his extreme behavior modification techniques including the breaking of bones.
One day in the blistering heat we had to bear crawl everywhere we went, so when we went to the chow hall, and gym,(all separate buildings from male boot camp) the skin on our hands literally melted off on the sidewalk, everyone got bad blisters all over their hands.
Certain Cadets were singled out by Staff and Cadets, and were bullied more often than others. One cadet in particular got restrained at least once or twice a week. That I was witness to.
Lots of Cadets developed a foot fungus due to the latrine floor being covered in bacteria, we also did not have the privilege of having toilet seats on our toilets.
We slept in a basement with bugs and spiders everywhere, the walls leaked, so when it rained the boot camp basement bays Alpha and Bravo became partially flooded and our sleeping bags, clothes would get wet.
At one point during the program I tried to break my ankle so that I could escape the torment, so I ran up the catwalk in the gym when the Sargent wasn't looking and jumped off, I landed on my feet and fell forward, as soon as one of the Sargents realized what I did, he immediately restrained me, pushing my neck into the floor, I was unable to breath and began screaming "Sir! I can't breath" through my crushed vocal cords and windpipe.
All he said was "STOP SAYING CAN'T!!" I thought I was going to die, I quit trying to breath and I was going to try and let myself slip out of consciousness, but at about the point I was passing out he got off of me. A cadet mentioned it later and said the sounds I was making sounded like I was being killed.
I was placed in isolation for a week or so I can't remember, and my neck was messed up for about a year after that, I think he did something to damage my spine, or the tendons in my neck when he restrained me.
When parents would show up, they would call "code white" over the radio, so the Sargent/Staff on duty would be aware that they were being watched, so they had us sit down and read, or do other activities in an attempt to keep the parents from knowing exactly what was going on there, to keep their horror house under wraps.
We were woken up in the middle of the night to exercise outside on the beach, or inside. Those were what we called "moon burns"
We had to sleep on 1/2 Inch thick green mats on top of the concrete floor.
When I finally got to residency, we were allowed one phone call per week with our parents, whenever I tried telling my mother that we were being abused, my family rep would switch off my phone, and take over the phone call (all of our calls were monitored live)
All of our letters were screened and judged according to a cadets psychological profile.
whited out, or edited, not sent at all.
Every weekend we were allowed to sit on the concrete floor and watch a movie, we often had to watch the same movie over and over again as a means of psychological tactics. ("Aladdin" was favorite of the staff)
We had to listen to "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and repetitive motivational cassette tapes repeatedly over and over again, as means of psychological tactics.
Cadets who "acted up" were forced to sit in isolation for weeks at a time in a tent with a bright light, listening to the same motivational tapes over and over again, NOTE: they started putting cadets in empty bays instead of the tent for some reason.
If we were outside and a car drove by on the isolated road in front of the main building, we were instructed to face towards the building for who knows what reason.
I witnessed a Sargent punch a cadet in the face.
Whenever a cadet was restrained, the Sargent or JR. Staff would yell out grenade, which then we had to dive on the ground, and bury our face in our elbows and kick our legs as to not be witnesses to the event of the bodily assaults.
One female cadet in particular was made to stay there for years and be subject to the owners abusive drones we called Sargents.
I personally witnessed cadets urinate and a defecate themselves.
cadets who acted up, we were forced to mock them with a made up cadence all together that included their name to bully and shame them into obedience.
A cadet died there due to their neglect and abuse.
How these programs continue to flourish is anyone's guess
Which is very concerning.
The only positive thing I have to say about this program is, had I not been sent, I may have died due to severe depression I was not eating and my body was withering away.
Basically, I was broken down completely, but never built back up.
These places are abusive, plain and simple.
Do not send your kids to these places.
I am a survivor and assure you that everything I have mentioned is true and correct and not exaggerated in any way to my knowledge.
You have my permission to post this on your website, I wish to remain Anonymous and am also using a VPN out of fear that the owners will retaliate against me in my adult life should they come across this posting even though the place has since shut down.
I worked at thayer learning center about 9-10yrs ago as evening security. I seen a male "cadet" get his wrist/arm broken i had to let daviess county sheriff and deputy inside building. I saw numerous "cadets" male and female get "dropped"by dsgts. I personally had to sit with a female "cadet" in a big green tent as a form of punishment for 30+ days each day i came in. I had heard a couple male "cadets" mention that a dsgt picked one of them up by the throat and slam them against the wall numerous times. I also heard the last name of a cadet that had died, the name was "reyes" he was from california i think. The was a dsgt that kicked a male cadet in the left heel while doing pushups. There was a male cadet working in the kitchen that got dropped because he was eating food from plates of other cadet when plates came into kitchen. I also heard male cadets speak of being touched at nighttime by other cadets.
Thanks to both of you so much for bravely sharing your experiences! I would strongly encourage both of you to submit your reports to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is one of the most valuable tools we have available to prevent placements. Staff submissions are extremely valuable as they are considered more credible to outsiders. I would also suggest trying to connect with other former students and staff perhaps through facebook or other means, compiling as many fully honest reports as possible, and sending them to federal and state dhr/cps as well as the legislature of the state in which the program is located in.
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