Sunday, March 29, 2015

Where Do Veterans Go When Everyone Stopped Watching?

Soldiers Failed, Veterans Turned Away
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 29, 2015

This is a great example of Congress pushing for "something" to be done to fix what reporters got ahold of.

Demand down for soldiers needing JBLM’s Warrior Transition Battalion reported by Adam Ashton for The Olympian shows how the community stepped up to help take care of the wounded soldiers.

It starts with
On the back of a horse at a farm in Yelm, Mike Buccieri began letting go of the psychological wounds he carried after an Afghan insurgent’s bullet tore into his back and ripped him from the Army life he loved.

He found the equine-based therapy that worked for him when the Army sent him to a Warrior Transition Battalion, a medical unit he had once disparaged as a purgatory for “broken soldiers” on their way to being “kicked out” of the military.

Yet as Congress claims to be investigating the facts discovered by The Dallas News and NBC joint effort to bring the suffering of the wounded to our attention, it has been going on right under their nose and they just didn't care enough to do the right thing before they were forced to even take a look at it.
Remember the scandal at Walter Reed Hospital?

Embarrassed by allegations of mistreated wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2007, the Army spent more than $1.2 billion building facilities for its severely injured troops at large posts around the world.
So Congress did "something" about it.

Col. Chris Toner, chief of the Army Warrior Transition Command, told the House Armed Services Committee last month that 4,196 soldiers are enrolled in the program – down from a peak of 12,451 seven years ago.

Despite the falling numbers, Army leaders insist they want to maintain the warrior transition model rather than reuse the costly facilities for a different purpose.

“We’ve come a long way since the days of medical holding companies and long wait times for injured soldiers,” Toner told lawmakers. “We will not return to that setting.”

Yet, when reporters were not watching, this is what happened over and over again across the country to wounded servicemen and women.
Recently, The Dallas Morning News and KXAS-TV documented examples of mistreated patients and verbal abuse at warrior units at Army hospitals in Texas. Their investigation prompted the Army to issue new training guidelines for the soldiers who volunteer to work in warrior transition battalion.

A 2013 Defense Department Inspector General audit of JBLM’s Warrior Transition Battalion documented similar concerns from soldiers and staff members. It spelled out the systemic flaws that have dogged warrior transition battalions since the program launched, such as:
• Inconsistent training for staff members.
• High turnover among the active-duty and Reserve soldiers who oversee patients.
• Frustration among patients who felt stuck in a program of indeterminate length. Some could be enrolled in a battalion for two years or more.
• Barriers to connecting patients with job-training programs in the civilian sector that could prepare them for opportunities after they leave the military.

The report, based on site visits in the summer of 2011, included several revealing comments from anonymous patients and staff members about the pressures they felt inside the battalion.

The Warrior Transition Battalion “steals your soul and puts you in a deeper depression,” one National Guard soldier told the auditors. “They tell me to plan for the future, but they cannot tell me when I can leave.”

So now they'll have empty buildings but it isn't as if they overplanned for the wounded. It is more that the wounded soldiers are no longer in the military.

So what happens to them now? It isn't as if their wounds have vanished. The DOD doesn't have to count them anymore. They don't have to count the number of veterans committing suicide or needing care for PTSD any more than they have to account for the physical needs.

The VA has had trouble for decades as reported by veterans going back to the 70's. Congress has not had to answer for what they failed to do on that end either.

Their latest answer is, "Hey we'll just privatize it" hand out cards so veterans could go see a doctor charging a lot more money for the same work the VA is supposed to be providing. Sure, no wait times in a private office or at hospitals. At least that is what Congress wants us to envision. Guess they never had to rely on what the rest of experience on a daily basis.

This is really simple. Congress has had since 1946 to get it right for our veterans and even longer to get it right for the wounded yet what veterans got were more problems than solutions.

Guess who is to blame? Us. We vote for folks to do a job (both sides) yet never bother to make sure they're doing it. It takes reporters to tell the stories they live with on a daily bases, so God love them for that, however, they forget that we need to be reminded about what happened before that made it this bad. It is for sure that Congress won't blame themselves but veterans do.

Any idea what members of Congress are up to knowing that more and more disabled veterans are heading home from combat? They show no indication of learning from the past about anything so just expect more of the same excuses and a longer line of veterans suffering.

They plan, as in the past, to  have communities step up and take care of them.  Sounds good until you ask about where all the billions a year spent to "care for them" went.  Also sounds good until you wonder what happened to all the money folks donated to huge charities using professional fundraisers to gain millions a year while Congress refuses to hold them accountable.

When it comes to veterans, it seems they can't really count on anyone for very long.

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