Showing posts with label Joint Base Lewis McChord. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joint Base Lewis McChord. Show all posts

Friday, August 23, 2019

Soldier's baby boy burned during operation at Madigan Army Medical Center

$12M payout may be appealed after botched surgery and burning of soldier’s child at Army hospital

Army Times
By: Kyle Rempfer
August 22, 2019

“They don’t face any penalties for filing a frivolous appeal and having months pass where this child can’t get the money for the very specialized care he needs,” Zanowski said.
The boy was undergoing surgery to remove a benign cyst when the medical team's lack of communication led to the use of an electrocautery device in conjunction with high oxygen levels, igniting a fire, court documents show. (Evergreen Personal Injury Counseling)
The federal government may appeal a $12.3 million verdict they were ordered to pay to the family of a young boy whose face was severely burned four years ago in a botched surgery at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

The government filed a “protective notice of appeal” in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday, taking issue with the large payout.

The appeal means that the money expected to be awarded to the family for medical costs will be withheld for the time being, said Gemma Zanowski, an attorney at Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel who represents the family of the child.

The boy, identified in court documents as BJP, is the son of an active-duty soldier. In 2015, the boy spent 22 days in an intensive care and burn unit after the botched surgery ignited a fireball that left second- and third-degree burns across his face and neck, according to court records.

BJP must still undergo treatment for the burns, including a reconstructive procedure that would insert a balloon under the skin in order to stretch it slowly over a period of months.
read it here

Friday, March 1, 2019

Air Force Colonel lost "wingman" to suicide

Commentary: Watching out for lost wingmen

By Col. (Dr.) Bruce K. Neely
446th Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander
Published February 27, 2019

There is no shame in reaching out for help, asking for help, or letting others know you are lost.


6,079. That’s the number of veteran suicides for 2016, the most recent year reported. In some ways it’s just a random number and hard to put into any type of perspective. In many ways it’s sobering, sad, disturbing and disappointing.
One. That’s the number of veteran suicides of former 446th Airlift Wing members in 2019. I’ll give you some perspective on that. It was a friend of mine. A pilot who I flew into a war with. A pilot I helped when he needed a waiver for a medical issue. A pilot who was always upbeat, encouraging and helping to others. A pilot who left behind family and hundreds of friends across the Air Force. In all ways it’s sad, disturbing, hard to comprehend, and yes, disappointing.

There will probably never be answers for the question of why people commit suicide. I deal with suicidal people at my civilian work in the Emergency Department nearly every day.

Many of them have no answer for why they are feeling that way or what led them to that point. Many feel they are a burden on others, and don’t want to go on being a burden to others.

They don’t realize the burden of helping them, be it by those of us in the hospital or by their families and friends, is nothing compared to the burden left behind if they end their own lives. That burden is much greater and felt by more people. I know that to be true from my own reaction and the reaction of others to the death of our friend.

I make it a point to ask, remind and encourage everyone to take care of the people around them, in the squadron and in the wing. That is part of being a good wingman.

But, there’s another part to being a good wingman. In the flying community there is a term called lost wingman. That call is made when the wingman loses sight or contact with the lead. The call is made because it’s a serious safety of flight issue to be lost or out of contact. The procedure is to change your direction for a short period of time and then get back into contact and back on heading. There is no shame in calling lost wingman.

So, you see the other part of being a good wingman is knowing when you’re lost, and not just in relation to flying. It’s a serious safety of life issue. There is no shame in reaching out for help, asking for help, or letting others know you are lost.

People are concerned it will end their career. It’s not an end, it’s a temporary change in direction until you can make contact and get back on the correct flight path. Remember, there’s a waiver for almost everything, except being dead. There’s no waiver for that.

Pay attention to those around you. If someone seems off, ask them what’s going on. Reach out. Be a good wingman. But if you are lost, don’t hesitate to make that lost wingman call. I don’t want to lose any more friends.

Here is a partial list of resources if you feel lost: unit commander, first sergeant, your supervisor, your flight or section chief, your flight or section officer in charge, psychological health, chaplain, emergency departments, Military OneSource ( or 800-342-9647), National Suicide Prevention Life Line (1-800-273-8255).

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Joint Base Lewis McChord kicked out soldiers for PTSD

Army leaders punish sick Shelton soldier in need of help
K5 News
Taylor Mirfendereski
November 14, 2018

'The Army Broke Him'

SHELTON -- Kord Ball dug out his wrinkled Army uniform from a pile of clothes inside his Shelton trailer.

And for the first time in months, the disheveled staff sergeant mustered up the energy to shave and get a haircut.

That September 2018 morning was one of Ball's last days in the U.S. Army, after a decorated 10-year military career. But the 27-year-old didn't leave the service on good terms.

Army leaders at Joint Base Lewis McChord kicked Ball out of the service for misconduct because he failed a drug test for marijuana. He received an other-than-honorable discharge, which strips away his right to access veteran benefits, including long-term health care from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

But records show the behavior that got Ball in trouble was directly related to his diagnosed anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder -- medical conditions brought on by his military service. And now, the veteran doesn't have a right to access the long-term medical benefits he needs to heal.
read more here

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Joint Base Lewis McCord Soldier Saved Lives After Amtrak Crash

Soldier Jumped From Pickup Truck to Help Rescue Passengers in Washington Train Crash

KTLA 5 News
December 19, 2017

A soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord says he saw the Amtrak train plunge from an overpass in Monday's crash and jumped into action to help save the people trapped inside.
"I saw many people that were just paralyzed with fear and I don't blame them at all. I mean, it was kind of a hard situation to watch unfold."
Second Lt. Robert McCoy hit the brakes on his pickup truck just in time, he told KTLA sister station KCPQ in Seattle.
"The train is going south and I'm just kind of driving, just driving, and I hear a loud noise and I look up and I see the train and it hits the concrete walls on the side and when it hits the walls -- the walls kind of exploded -- and the train just falls off. I see the train fall and it kind of falls on itself ... and it hits three vehicles that were in front of me -- a semi, an F-150, and a Kia Soul."
The soldier serves in the Army's medical field and he knew he had to do something.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Airman Found Dead at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Air Force investigating death of airman found in dorm

Associated Press
December 14, 2017
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of an airman found in his dorm at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma.
The Air Force announced that Airman Cody Watt was found dead Tuesday just after noon.

Monday, February 20, 2017

New Hampshire Army Ranger Shot by Other Soldier Receives Outpouring of Support

Over $20,000 raised in 1 day for NH soldier shot by fellow Army ranger
February 18, 2017

HUDSON - There has been an outpouring of support from the community after a soldier from New Hampshire was shot in the neck by another Army ranger earlier this week.
A GoFundMe page for Joshua Keller has already collected more than $20,000. He was accidentally shot in Washington, and the other solider is facing charges.

His father Matt Keller spoke with NH1 News earlier in the week. He said his family has been in Washington since Sunday to be with their son.
read more here

Solider from NH shot by fellow Army ranger, in critical condition
The Associated Press
February 14, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — An Army ranger from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state has been charged with shooting a fellow soldier, who remains in critical condition.

The Olympian reports that Spc. Thomas Patrick Popek was arraigned in court Monday on an assault charge. The 23-year-old victim from Hudson, N.H., is in critical condition and unable to breath on his own.
read more here

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Army Ranger Facing Charges After Shooting Another Soldier

Army Ranger arraigned in shooting of fellow JBLM soldier
The Olympian
Kenny Ocker
February 13, 2017
One witness said Popek had returned to JBLM from a deployment five days earlier.

An Army Ranger assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord was arraigned Monday in Pierce County Superior Court, charged with shooting a fellow soldier in the neck Saturday in Parkland.

Spc. Thomas Patrick Popek, 22, faces one count of second-degree assault for the incident, which charging documents say left a JBLM soldier on life support with a bullet lodged in his neck.

The 23-year-old is in critical condition in an area hospital and unable to breathe on his own.
read more here

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sgt. Marcus Lamarr Nelson Sr. Served "Loud and Proud" Died in Texas Jail

Soldiers remember sergeant who died in Bell County Jail
Killeen Daily Herald
David A Bryant
June 1, 2016

When Fort Hood officials released the name of a soldier who died May 23 in the Bell County Jail in Belton, those who served with him were both shocked he was in jail in the first place and devastated at the news.

Sgt. Marcus Lamarr Nelson Sr., 45, whose home of record is listed as Detroit, Mich., entered active duty service in April 2005 as a petroleum supply specialist. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division since June 2015.

The sergeant was being held on military charges of departing from his appointed place of duty, disobeying a lawful order from a noncommissioned officer, four counts of dereliction of duty and four counts of communicating a threat.

Nelson deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from October 2008 to September 2009 and from September 2006 to September 2007.

“I met him in January 2006 at (Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.) when I was 18,” said Josh LeBlanc, a veteran from Kountze, Texas, who deployed to Iraq with Nelson. “He was ‘loud and proud’ every morning and he was always upholding the standard. If you felt like ‘skating’ and getting out of doing things, he would still uphold the standards. That’s what he was known for.”

LeBlanc said Nelson was not only a great soldier, but an amazing person.

“He really taught me a lot about being a good person,” he said. “I was really shocked to hear about his death. I’m torn up about it.”
read more here

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Double Amputee Afghanistan Veteran Reflects of "Good Fortune"

Next stop for wounded JBLM veteran: A new home built just for him
The News Tribune
Adam Ashton
January 9, 2016
“How do I express my gratitude? They welcomed me with open arms. Eatonville, I have this feeling that this is going to be the community where I live the rest of my life.” Sam Shockley
Double amputee Afghanistan veteran Sam Shockley wheels himself past the Patriot Guard to a Homes for our Troops groundbreaking and welcoming event Saturday in Eatonville to celebrate a new custom home that will be built for him and his wife, Emely. Dean J. Koepfler
Samuel Shockley can’t believe his good fortune.

He’s grateful for friends who have lifted him on their backs in the woods so he could hunt and fish like he used to do.

The woman he met on a wild night at a Tacoma piano bar stuck with him through two Army combat deployments and two years of recovery at Walter Reed Military Medical Center.

And fast-acting teammates from Joint Base Lewis-McChord got him off the battlefield in Afghanistan almost instantly when a mine blasted away both of his legs, allowing him to live another day.

“Without those guys, without what they did, I wouldn’t be able to be here today,” he said.
read more here

Saturday, November 7, 2015

JBLM Soldier in Custody After Lakewood shooting

Police take JBLM soldier into custody in Lakewood shooting
The Associated Press
November 6, 2015

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — A soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord has surrendered in connection with a shooting that left one man critically injured Thursday, police said.

Lakewood police took 22-year-old Jesse Suhanec into custody Thursday evening without incident after he reportedly knocked on the door to a house in the Tillicum area of Lakewood and told the residents he was wanted by police.

The residents let him inside their house and called 911. Suhanec told them he had been hiding and was cooperative with police, according to Lt. Chris Lawler. A weapon also was recovered.
read more here

Police search for JBLM soldier in shooting case
The Associated Press
November 5, 2015
The soldier is reportedly missing from the base, and a government van that had been checked out by him was abandoned at the shooting scene.
LAKEWOOD, Wash. — A shooting in the Tillicum area of Lakewood left one man in critical condition Thursday while police searched for a shooter they say could be an active duty soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Police say the shooting occurred just after 10 a.m. in the area of Grant Avenue Southwest near the base. After the report, police got a call about a man collapsed in his vehicle with gunshot wounds in the parking lot of a Popeye's Restaurant a few blocks away.

The man was taken to a nearby hospital, but he is expected to survive, Lakewood Police Lt. Chris Lawler said.
read more here

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Joint Base Lewis McChord Soldier Killed By Train

Death of JBLM soldier hit by train investigated as suicide
The Olympian
Staff writer
October 22, 2015

The death of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who died Thursday after he was hit by a train is being investigated as a suicide, DuPont police said Friday.

A Burlington Northern Santa Fe train hit the man about 10 a.m. when he was on the tracks roughly 2 miles south of an area called Solo Point along the water near DuPont.
read more here

Friday, October 9, 2015

Army Drops AWOL Charges Against Ranger-Combat Medic

16 Months after Illegal Search, Army Drops AWOL Case against Ranger
The News Tribune
by Adam Ashton
Oct 08, 2015
At the time of his arrest, Schwisow was a well-regarded medic who had proved himself repeatedly in Iraq and Afghanistan, one of his former officers said.
The Army has dismissed a long-running desertion case against a veteran Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army Ranger who spent more than a year in jail after military police illegally searched his Tacoma apartment.

An Army judge's decision late Tuesday gave Staff Sgt. Brian Schwisow his first night of freedom since he was taken into custody in June 2014.

The veteran of six combat deployments was apprehended after a team of at least six military police officers followed Schwisow's apartment building manager into his home without a warrant while aiming to arrest him on suspicion of desertion and drug-related charges.

Agents and prosecutors left no doubt in court this week that Army police erred when they walked into Schwisow's apartment with their guns drawn.

"You didn't have the authority to go into his apartment, did you?" Army Judge Col. Jeffery Lippert asked the senior Army drug suppression officer who participated in Schwisow's arrest.

"No sir," agent Jennifer Acevedo replied in court at a pretrial hearing.

That error, though serious, was not the reason that Lippert dismissed the six criminal charges against Schwisow.

The dismissal centered on delays that have kept Schwisow in confinement for 489 days while awaiting a trial for desertion and narcotics charges.
read more here

Friday, October 2, 2015

Oregon Hero Thought of Others While Being Shot

Former JBLM soldier emerges as hero in campus shooting
Seattle Times
By Hal Bernton
Seattle Times staff reporter
Originally published October 2, 2015
Chris Mintz, surivor of the Umpqua Community College shooting, Thursday, was shot seven times. Mintz, 30, is an Army veteran who lived in Tacoma about 10 years ago while stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, according to Mintz’s brother. (Family of Chris Mintz)
An Army veteran who once served at Joint Base Lewis McChord is emerging as a hero who tried to protect classmates in the shooting rampage that took place at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore.

Christopher Mintz, 30, was shot multiple times and suffered wounds to both legs, his stomach and back but is now recovering at an Oregon hospital, according to his cousin, Derek Bourgeois, who says he spoke briefly with Mintz Thursday evening after surgery.

“He said he wished he could have saved just more people,” Bourgeois told The Seattle Times. “He was just out of surgery and struggling to get out a few words.”
read more here
Oregon shooting hero tells gunman, 'It's my son's birthday today' 
By Don Melvin
October 2, 2015

(CNN)When Chris Mintz heard gunfire at Oregon's Umpqua Community College on Thursday, his thoughts were not of himself.
Instead, he thought first of protecting others.

Then he thought of his 6-year-old son, Tyrik.

Nine people were killed when a gunman opened fire at the College on Thursday. Nine others were injured.

When the shooting broke out, Mintz, 30, an military veteran and a former high school football player in Randleman, North Carolina, tried to save the lives of others.

"Tries to block the door to keep the gunman from coming in," his aunt, Wanda Mintz, told Fox 8, a CNN affiliate in High Point, North Carolina.

"Gets shot three times," his aunt said. "Hits the floor."

"Looks up at the gunman and says, 'It's my son's birthday today,' " his aunt said.

Still, there was no mercy. The gunman shot Mintz again. It's not yet clear exactly how many more times, but both his legs are broken, said family members who talked to him by phone on his way into surgery.
read more here

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Joint Base Lewis-McChord Died After Parachute Accident

JBLM paratrooper dies during training exercise
KING 5 News
Alex Rozier
September 12, 2015

A soldier who went missing after a parachute jump in Mason County was found dead Friday night.

The jump happened during a training exercise that began around noon on Friday. After a search of the area, the body was found at approximately 10 p.m. that day.

The soldier was part of the 1st Special Forces Group based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The unit was training over a wooded area in Mason County.

The soldier's name has not yet been released.
read more here
Linked from USAToday

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Air Force Pilot Beaten for Confederate Flag on Motorcycle

Air Force pilot beaten by masked ‘anarchists’ after displaying Confederate flag
The Washington Post
By Dan Lamothe
Published: September 9, 2015

An Air Force pilot was assaulted with a bat in Washington state Saturday by masked “anarchists” after they noticed he was displaying two Confederate flags on his motorcycle, police said.

The incident occurred in Olympia, Wash., a few miles west of where the man is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The pilot was stopped because protesters were marching in the street. Then they surrounded him as they attempted to knock his motorcycle over, according to a police report.

“They sprayed the victim in the face with mace, and struck him in the back with a baseball bat and a glass bottle filled with red paint,” the report said. “The victim suffered severe eye irritation and a bruised shoulder and back. One of the witnesses attempting to assist the victim was also sprayed in the face with mace.”

The attack comes following a summer in which the use of the Confederate flag was hotly contested, following the June 17 attack on a historic black church in South Carolina that killed nine people. The suspect in that case, Dylann Roof, 21, faces the death penalty, and was photographed displaying the Confederate flag before the attack.
read more here
Linked from Stars and Stripes

Friday, August 21, 2015

Army Sending 200 Soldiers to Fight Wildfires

Army Sends 200 Soldiers to Battle Wildfires in Pacific Northwest
Kris Osborn
August 20, 2015
Firefighters and Washington National Guard soldiers work to extinguish hot spots on a hillside as they fight the First Creek Fire, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, near Chelan, Wash (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Army is mobilizing 200 active-duty troops to help firefighters battle deadly wildfires in the Pacific Northwest at the request of the Idaho-based National Interagency Fire Center, service officials said.

The move comes a day after three firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service died when they were overcome by the blaze in a rural part of Washington state.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter approved the request and is sending the 17th Field Artillery Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington to provide military support to the ongoing fire suppression efforts, officials said.

"It is an honor and a privilege to serve our nation," said Lt. Col. James Dunwoody, commander of the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery, 17th Fires Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The soldiers will be organized into ten crews of 20 persons each. They will head to the so-called Tower fire in the Coleville National Forest north of Spokane.
read more here

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Solider's Dog Zeus Took Cross Country Trip Courtesy of Banfield Employee

Lost, now found: Zeus the dog reunited with soldier and family
The Olympian
August 14, 2015

Perhaps it was coincidence that Zeus the dog came home on a morning marked by peals of thunder. Or perhaps the dog gods were laughing.

Either way, Melody Harworth was crying.

“Hi, puppy,” she kept saying and sobbing Friday, as Zeus emerged from a car and greeted his long-lost family. “Hi, puppy, hi, puppy.”

Her husband Ben Harworth’s eyes were red-rimmed; until last month he believed his dog was long dead. Friday, he accepted slobbery kisses and woofed at the old friend he hadn’t seen in three years.

Zeus, unable to fly because of a medical condition, had been ferried crosscountry from Fort Bragg in North Carolina, his old home. The ride came courtesy of Rachel Overby, who works with Banfield Pet Hospital, a partner with PetSmart stores.

Harworth, a chief warrant officer, had been stationed at Fort Bragg until 2011, when he transferred to South Korea.
CW2 Benjamin Harworth, stationed at JBLM, gets loving kisses from his long lost dog, Zeus, with his wife, Melody looking happy at Petsmart in Lacey on Friday. Harworth was deployed to Afghanistan, let his friend watch his dog Zeus. Harworth receives a call in Afghanistan from his friend saying that his dog has died. Harworth receives a call recently from Banfield Clinic near Fort Bragg saying that they have his dog. He tells them this is impossible because his dog died four years ago. Last month, Banfield explains that they scanned the dog's microchip and it is Zues. Banfield arranged to have Zeus transported across the country to be reunited with Harworth at the Lacey Petsmart. Lui Kit Wong read more here

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Why Is Department of Defense Withholding Documents on Robert Bales?

Three years after Afghanistan killings, military again refuses to release report on Robert Bales
The News Tribune
Staff writer
July 1, 2015

The Defense Department is again denying a Freedom of Information Act request from The News Tribune seeking the release of an investigation into commanders who oversaw Staff Sgt. Robert Bales before he snapped and killed 16 Afghan civilians in March 2012.

A FOIA officer from U.S. Central Command on Tuesday told the newspaper that its latest request for the document would be declined under an exemption that allows the government to withhold information that could influence an ongoing law enforcement investigation.

The News Tribune has been seeking the report since August 2013, when Bales was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Army in March also rejected a clemency request Bales submitted to Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s I Corps.

Bales was a JBLM Stryker soldier serving at a small Special Operations outpost in Kandahar Province with a team from the 7th Special Forces Group when he twice sneaked out of the base to murder civilians sleeping in separate nearby villages.

Maj. Alison Aguilar, spokeswoman for Army Special Operations Command, said Wednesday that all disciplinary proceedings for that group of Green Berets have been completed.

As The News Tribune previously reported, one Green Beret was discharged from the military because he provided steroids to Bales. Another soldier from the Special Forces team received a reprimand for drinking alcohol on the deployment. One more was discharged from the Army because of a separate civilian criminal investigation that began before he arrived in Afghanistan.
read more here
linked from

Monday, April 13, 2015

Surge in Soldiers Seeking Help For PTSD

Army unifies mental health care at JBLM, elsewhere as demand for treatment surges
The Seattle Times
Staff writer April 11, 2015

The Army is overhauling mental health services after years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, aiming to end an era of experimentation in which nearly 200 programs were tried on different bases.

At Joint Base Lewis-McChord and elsewhere, the Army has pushed counseling teams out of hospitals to embed with troops. And in a new effort, it’s cutting back its use of private psychiatric hospitals while expanding intensive mental health programs, including at Madigan Army Medical Center.

The reforms come at a time when the Army — despite a dramatic reduction in troops heading to war zones — still faces serious challenges trying to reach and treat soldiers afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions.

At JBLM, diagnoses of PTSD over the past three years have been at the highest level since the peak of the Iraq war in 2008.

Army-wide, patient contacts with mental health personnel reached 2 million last year, more than double the numbers six years earlier when a much larger Army was enmeshed in ground combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet, despite expanded outreach, the Army’s latest PTSD training document — provided to medical staff in December — shows that more than half the soldiers with PTSD and other mental health problems still don’t receive any care.

And when they do seek help, many drop out.
For seven years of the post 9/11 era, at what is now JBLM, there was another option available. It was a Madigan intensive outpatient treatment program that offered troubled soldiers a chance at intensive counseling where uniforms were optional.

“We could take between 25 to 30 (patients) and they could get six hours of treatment per day,” said Dr. Russell Hicks, a psychiatrist who founded and headed up the program.

The program helped some soldiers resume their Army careers, while others received mental health diagnoses, such as PTSD, that could the stage for a medical retirement.

But in 2010, a year some 18,000 soldiers were returning from often difficult deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, the program was shut down.
read more here

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.