Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Army taking even longer to take care of wounded

Army falls further behind processing wounded

By Gregg Zoroya - USA Today
Posted : Tuesday Jul 22, 2008 13:06:48 EDT

WASHINGTON — Soldiers who are physically or mentally ailing can wait two months to a year before the Army acts to medically discharge them or return them to their units, according to a House investigation. That’s two or three times longer than the Army goal set last year.

The Army promised last year to cut the time spent treating and preparing soldiers to either return to their units or leave the military after the revelation of bureaucratic delays and poor treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. However, the investigation by the House Armed Services Committee said whatever progress was made has been reversed.

Instead of taking one to four months, the process takes between two months and a year, the investigation shows. Also, unit squad leaders or caseworkers have become overwhelmed by larger-than-expected numbers of wounded soldiers.

“The Army failed to properly forecast the growth in the number of warriors in transition,” said the investigation by the House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel.

“I’m disappointed and troubled,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., in a statement. “These soldiers deserve high-quality care. The staff members charged with providing their care are doing yeoman’s work, but the current staffing levels can’t handle the load.”
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