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Mother of Fort Hood soldier who died in his sleep wants to hold U.S. military accountable

On Feb. 1, 2022, 32-year-old Joey Lenz died in his sleep on Fort Hood. Now, his mother is fighting to propose a new bill holding the U.S. military accountable.

FORT HOOD, Texas — It was Feb. 1, 2022 and Specialist Joey Lenz went to sleep in his barracks on Fort Hood like it was any other day.

"He said, 'mom I love you. I have to get up at 0300. I have to be at the motor pool and I will call you tomorrow'. Well, of course, tomorrow never came,"  Lenz's mother, Margie Taylor, said.

While sleeping, Lenz, 32, suffered a heart attack and died. Medical records later revealed his heart was three times the normal size of a man his age.

At the time of his death, Taylor said she was left in the dark.

"I've had to fight to get answers why he died," Taylor said. "I had to fight to get medical records and I decided that I would make changes after I found out why Joey passed away in his sleep."

According to medical records Taylor showed, in March of 2021, he was sent to an ICU due to complications from four medications he received for an eye infection. After an MRI, Troponin levels were noted.

"It told us that it was either a heart attack or a heart issue and then some of the blood levels showed there could be internal bleeding," Taylor said. "Joey was never told this."

Therefore, he was never treated for his condition, Taylor said.

In October of 2021, Lenz took an online health care assessment just like every other soldier on Fort Hood. Taylor said no red flags were brought to his attention then either.

But, by January 2022, medical records show he was taking nine different medications

"The ICU nurse told me, he was over medicated at Fort Hood and that's why he was in ICU," Taylor said.

Some of those medications did not interact well together.

Taylor filed a wrongful death lawsuit and she's seeking $32 million in damages. But, she also wants changes to medical protocols in every branch of the military.

Taylor says despite all the treatment he received, the Army missed signs of his enlarged heart.

"Why aren't we doing better and we should do better to protect our military," Taylor said. "After all, they are our national security and that's what they volunteered to do."

Taylor took action and she proposed the Joey Lenz Military Medical Accountability Act, which is currently under review in the armed services committee.

"This is the most powerful thing I've ever done in my life," Taylor said. "I'm doing it not just for my son, but I'm doing it in my son's honor. I'm also doing it for all those others that came before hand and will continue to happen."

Among other things, it would require blood screenings and put a cap on the number of prescriptions without a physical or lab work -- things that could've saved her son's life.

In May during the week of Memorial Day, Taylor plans to hold a news conference to bring awareness to these military deaths and her hope of coming together to work for progress. 

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