Showing posts with label Warrior Transition Unit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Warrior Transition Unit. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Soldier accidentally shot himself in the head, lived and now denied benefits

Soldier who shot himself in head appeals Army’s decision to deny benefits

Published: February 5, 2019
The investigator’s original determination in Holyan’s case, however, was overturned by the 101st Airborne Division’s commander and then ratified by Army Human Resources Command.

Spc. Kevin Holyan, a wounded warrior athlete from the Fort Sam Houston Warrior Transition Battalion, poses with Lt. Col. Eric Kjonnerod, commander of Warrior Transition Battalion-Hawaii, during the 2018 Pacific Regional Trials indoor rowing medal ceremony at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Nov. 10, 2018.LEANNE THOMAS/U.S. ARMY PHOTO
Army Spc. Kevin Holyan arrived especially early at the Hopkinsville, Ky., home of his former barracks mate, who had been promoted to sergeant and was celebrating with a party that evening in April 2017.

Holyan, a 22-year-old assigned to an engineer battalion with the 101st Airborne Division at nearby Fort Campbell, kept his personally owned handgun at that friend’s house, and was eager to put on new grips he’d gotten for the gun. Army regulations did not allow Holyan to keep the .40-caliber Glock 23 at his base residence.

Hours later, Holyan jokingly raised the gun to his head, and believing it was unloaded, pulled the trigger and fired a bullet through his brain. He was rushed to a hospital where a note in his medical chart that evening offered a stark assessment: “Grave prognosis,” it said. “Likely fatal [injury].”

Holyan survived, but today he cannot walk and is mentally impaired. He is in an Army Warrior Transition Unit and on his way to becoming a civilian. He is not expected to be able to work again.
read more here

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fort Hood soldier found dead on post on Christmas Eve

Fort Hood soldier found dead on post on Christmas Eve
Army Times
By: Meghann Myers
December 28, 2016

A 21-year-old private was found unresponsive in a Fort Hood, Texas, home on Dec. 24, according to an Army release.

Pvt. Paige Elizabeth Briles, from Kaplan, Louisiana, was a wheeled vehicle mechanic assigned to a warrior transition unit, the release said.
read more here

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Army Couldn't Defeat Moms Battle to Get Proper Care of Sons

Fort Riley bureaucracy frustrated moms who sought care for soldier sons
Topeka Capital Journal
Jonathan Shorman
October 1, 2016
The Martin and Ewing families’ ordeals played out in the weeks before the suspension and firing of Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby, the commander of Fort Riley. Grigsby remains under investigation, though the Army has been tight-lipped about the reason.

Stephen Martin, an Army specialist, had an autoimmune disease that was eating away at his nerve endings, gradually eroding his ability to feel in his limbs. And it was getting worse.

“As I get on the plane, I get an email from the doctor saying my son will never fully recover, because of these gaps in treatment, he’s in the condition he’s in, that he’s going to be receiving treatments the rest of his life,” Tracey Martin recalled.

She was in the midst of a battle with military bureaucracy to secure long-term treatment for her son and extricate him from the tentacles of Fort Riley, which she said kept him from getting the care he needed as he lost feeling in more of his body.

Beginning in early August, Tracey Martin, an attorney in Joplin, Mo., used military connections, members of Congress and stern dispatches to Pentagon officials to pressure Fort Riley for her son’s transfer. It worked; Stephen Martin now is receiving regular treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and shows signs of improvement.
“How do you explain that soldiers willing to risk life and limb fighting the enemy are instead losing life and limb to the brokenness of an army administration that seems like it can’t be bothered to fight for them?”
read more here

To discover more about how our wounded were treated, start with the reporting done by Dallas Morning News two years ago Injured Heroes Broken Promises

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fort Hood WTU New Commander Was Patient

Read Injured Heroes Broken Promises and then maybe find some hope with this new Commander coming in. After all, he won't just lead it, he lived it.
Former wounded soldier becomes new Warrior Transition Unit commander
Killeen Daily Herald
J Jones
March 9, 2016
Gannaway was medically evacuated from Baghdad, Iraq, after sustaining serious injuries in 2007 while serving as a cavalry troop commander.
Gabe Wolf | Herald Assumption of Command LTC Bruce Gannaway says some remarks after assuming command of the Warrior Transition Unit last Thursday, March 3,2016.
Fort Hood’s Warrior Transition Unit welcomed its newest commander Thursday in an assumption of command ceremony at Abrams Physical Fitness Center.

The WTU is home to Fort Hood’s “wounded, ill and injured” soldiers, helping them as they recover and transition back to the force, or into medical retirement.

Lt. Col. Bruce Gannaway took command of the unit from Lt. Col. Jolanda Walker, who was serving as the WTU interim commander since December. The previous commander was Col. Douglas Woodall, and the unit has downsized recently.

“This morning I stand before you thrilled and privileged to be a part of the Fort Hood community, but at the same time humbled to be reminded of all those who helped me through to this point in my career,” Gannaway said. “Whatever I’ve done to reach this point in my career is a mere testament to the soldiers, leaders and Army civilians who took time to coach, teach and mentor me.”
read more here

Thursday, December 3, 2015

How Much Time Should Army Brass Get in Confinement?

Army Got Away With it Long Enough Yet?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 3, 2015

The more reports come out about how the Army really treats soldiers it is a wonder why anyone would still want to serve. There is yet another report about how the Army is kicking out wounded instead of doing the honorable thing. How do they continue to get away with all of this? How do they keep getting away with spending billions on "prevention" as the number of suicides go up just as the number of enlisted go down? Is anyone paying attention to any of this?

Fort Knox, Sgt. Gerald Cassidy died alone from a prescription drug overdose at the Army's Warrior Transition Unit
Cassidy's family also provided to The Star key documents from the Army's investigation of his death that had not previously been released and shared some notes Cassidy wrote at Fort Knox about his anxiety over loud noises and lack of sleep and his concern for the impact of his illness on his family.

The family says it is speaking out in hopes that greater public awareness will help other soldiers get better treatment.

The family found an ally in Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, who is calling for numerous changes in the way the military handles mental health services for wounded soldiers.

"The pain is never going to go away," said Cassidy's mother, Kay McMullen, Carmel. "You've got to do something then to change the outcome for other people."

Sounded good at the time but when the news broke about how wounded in those same units were being mistreated it pretty much proved that claim back in 2008 by Senator Bayh didn't really mean very much. Dallas Morning News reported last year "Injured Heroes Broken Promises" along with NBC about how it was not just still the same as usual but even worse six years later. They followed up that report with this in February "Army to investigate mistreatment claims by injured, ill soldiers at Fort Hood" Far more wait than hurry up in Army mental care
Even as combat winds down, demand for mental health care remains high and number of staffers too few, forcing long waits.
But the problem with that is, it wasn't new either. Shortages had been reported all along. Congress knew but while they held hearing after hearing no one turned on a hearing aid loud enough so they actually did something to fix any of it. This is really stunning considering that soldiers were actually cheating to stay in the Army back in 2007. Yes, you read that right.

USA Today Gregg Zoroya reported that on November 7, 2007 "Troops in Iraq and elsewhere have tried to avoid being pulled out of combat units by cheating on problem-solving tests that are used to spot traumatic brain-injury problems, military doctors say." But don't remind anyone how long all of this has been going on or the fact they are now reviewing discharges of Vietnam veterans from over 40 years ago.

Let's not talk about how there was a 40% rise in crisis calls in 2008, also reported by Gregg Zoroya. And for sure don't talk about what VA Watchdog reported on "The Army alone has a backlog of 1,890 veterans seeking corrections on their discharge papers, and some have been waiting for three years, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Many other veterans probably have faulty discharge papers but don’t know it because they have not sought benefits."

We sure as hell can't talk about how over at Fort Carson there was this piece of news reported by The Denver Post.
A Court of Inquiry is composed of at least three high-ranking military officers and can subpoena civilians. Geren can refuse the request.

"It's very important for the Army and very important for my clients. This is an investigation that is long overdue," said Louis Font, a Boston attorney who represents Currie and Spec. Alex Lotero, 21, a Fort Carson soldier from Miami.

The request says the Court of Inquiry should "investigate the extent to which the (generals) have been derelict in failing to provide for the health and welfare of wounded soldiers."
So it all still goes on and on. While everyone is doing a whole lot of promising to fix everything that is wrong, the only ones doing their jobs are the soldiers that get wounded and then shafted.
Army To Review Pattern Of PTSD, Brain Injuries Discharges
Colorado Public Radio
DEC 3, 2015
The Evans Army Community Hospital in Fort Carson, Colo.
The U.S. Army says it will conduct a "thorough" review of how it discharges soldiers who were diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder or brain injuries.

In November, CPR News and NPR reported that the Army has kicked out 22,000 soldiers since 2009, who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, for "misconduct." The soldiers had also been diagnosed with mental health issues or traumatic brain injuries. Some served at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs.

Soldiers who are discharged in this way are in danger of losing their benefits, including long-term health care for disabilities that may have been caused by combat.

In the wake of that report, a group of U.S. senators, including Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet, demanded the Army investigate itself. Earlier this week, the Army sent Bennet a letter saying it was doing just that. Bennet gave the letter to CPR News on Thursday.
read more here

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fort Hood Between 11,000 to 13,000 Wait for Counselors Each Month!

This is the most telling part of all of this proving beyond a doubt that Comprehensive Soldier Fitness does not work! It is something I tried to warn folks about back in 2009 when I wrote Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Will Make It Worse.
"Demand for care is not letting up. Records show counselors at Fort Hood are still handling between 11,000 to 13,000 appointments each month. That’s down only slightly from four years ago when they were seeing 13,000 to 16,000 a month."
The number of suicides in the military went up even as less were serving. The number of veterans committing suicide went up after all the "training" the DOD continued to push no matter what harm was being done.

Here is the rest of the report from NBC on Warrior Transition Units. If you haven't heard about all this before, there are links to the other reports done over the last year.
Soldiers Waited Days, Weeks for Counseling at Fort Hood: Investigation
Army says it’s understaffed, but that soldiers are getting the help they need when they need it
NBC 5 News
By Scott Friedman
Sep 7, 2015
But records show some soldiers still wait an average of 21 days for routine follow-up appointments. That’s longer than the Army’s target goal of seven days.
New Army records obtained by NBC 5 Investigates show active duty soldiers including those returning from combat have had to wait days or even weeks to make appointments with mental health counselors at Fort Hood.

Even as combat slowed down, the number of soldiers needing mental health care at Fort Hood has remained high. Thousands of soldiers still see counselors every week and records show that for more than six years the Army has struggled to hire enough psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to help recovering soldiers.

A 2011 Army PowerPoint presentation obtained by NBC 5 Investigates shows the average wait time for soldiers to see a psychiatrist reached 49 days and the average wait to a psychologist was 53 days. The presentation said Fort Hood has faced “unprecedented demand for behavioral health services,”that were “…coupled with ongoing staffing challenges…”
read more here

Reminder there are thousand less in the military now so these numbers are truly deplorable.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

When Will Politicians Do Their Jobs?

The list shows members of Congress have forgotten what made this nation great.
"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."
That was from President Kennedy about sending a rocket to the moon but those words went far beyond that one hard mission. It struck at the core of what made American what we were intended to become.
"Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation."
That investment in the future led to 50 years, 50 giant leaps: How Nasa rocked our world because these inventions and discoveries benefited the entire planet.
"Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding."

That was back when members of Congress thought their job was to change things for the better not destroy destiny by surrendering to hopelessness.
"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."

For decades we've all heard members of Congress complain about the Department of Veterans Affairs. It seems that's all they want to do. They make these grand speeches about how much they care but the lack of care, lack of fulfilling their responsibility, lack of careful thought and ineptness to plan has produced more decades of needless suffering. They cannot envision a way to take care of those willing to die for this nation? How long do they get to avoid taking responsibility for the offices they hold and the trust placed upon their shoulders as they lead the Committees with jurisdiction over the Department of Veterans Affairs? How many VA Secretaries do they get to blame while it all gets worse?

More and more of them are saying it is time to give up on the VA and send veterans into for-profit care centers and some folks agree but they are not seeing what kind of message this sends to veterans. It tells them they are not worthy of the promise made to them so long ago.
With the words, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan,” President Lincoln affirmed the government’s obligation to care for those injured during the war and to provide for the families of those who perished on the battlefield.
None of the problems reported are new. None of the wounds are new. The only new is that nothing has improved because members of Congress lack the vision to provide the best care possible to our veterans. They failed to plan for success and veterans have been suffering for it since the first House Committee of Veterans Affairs was seated in 1946. How many more years do they plan on letting veterans suffer instead of giving them the best care they paid for with their service to this nation?
But then again they didn't manage to do much for those still wearing the uniform.

In 2007 Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull covered what was going on over at Walter Reed when most Americans just figured the wounded had the best care in the world. Last year NBC and Dallas Morning News reported on more abuse of wounded in Warrior Transition Units. Congress yawned their response to change it but never once acknowledged how many years it had all gone on without them acting on behalf of the wounded to make sure they were all taken care of appropriately.

And while members of Congress once again try to explain why you should vote for them none of them have ever admitted why they never did anything to actually deserve the first one.
The WTUs were created in the wake of a 2007 scandal over substandard conditions at the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The units were set up at military posts across the country to help soldiers focus solely on getting the medical care they needed and either move back to active duty or obtain a discharge from military service.
However, I think we're going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don't think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fort Hood Warrior Transition Unit Improves Care But Complaints Increased

Soldier Describes Improvement at Fort Hood's WTU After NBC 5 Investigation Exposes Complaints of Mistreatment 
Internal Army memo still shows increase in “dignity and respect” complaints Army-wide in 2014, not just at WTUs
NBC 5 News Dallas
By Scott Friedman
September 4, 2015

There are signs of change at Fort Hood where an NBC 5 investigation uncovered serious concerns about the mistreatment of injured soldiers.
James Moffatt hoped for a lifelong career in the Army, but his plans changed on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Iraq when he suffered head and spinal injuries and developed post-traumatic stress.
"PTSD is like a monster that lives inside of you. You can contain it for a little while,” said Moffatt. “It’s going to rear its head eventually.”

read more here

But NBC 5 Investigates obtained an internal Army memo written last summer by outgoing Army Inspector General Peter Vangjel.  The memo said, “In the first half of (Fiscal Year) FY14, the Army recorded 23,975 complaints and requests for assistance. Command and leadership issues comprise a third of those complaints. Within the command/leadership complaint spectrum, there has been an increase this FY in the number of dignity and respect complaints …”
According to the memo, those complaints are Army-wide, not just issues at WTUs.
The memo goes on to say that soldiers have more “ … confidence that their complaints will be heard and acted upon.  What was tolerable language by most soldiers before — shouting, cursing and name calling — is simply no longer acceptable. Junior and senior leaders must demand excellence without verbally or personally attacking the soldier.”

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Wounded Times History in the Making 8th Anniversary

I missed my own anniversary. On August 10th Wounded Times turned 8 years old and I didn't even think about it. WOW! Sure I had a lot on my mind between having a tooth pulled Monday and my computer in for repairs, (which didn't happen and I had to buy a new one) plus feeling lousy the first day of my vacation from the company I get paid to work for, (since I do this for free) it was a rotten day. It didn't dawn on my until just now when I was looking up an old article on PTSD and the Moral Injury. I went back to the oldest post and saw the date.

There is so much that some folks are totally ignorant of, especially when it deals with veterans, simply because they have not paid attention all long. It is the job of the press to make them aware of the truth but they have forgotten truth also has a history. A history reported on by other reporters chronicling the suffering of millions of veterans from every generation.

Wounded Times' mission has been to put all these articles in one place so that no one could forget what happened and when it happened.
Variant of chronicle
a historical record or register of facts or events
arranged in the order in which they happened
a narrative; history

I was frustrated searching for reports, thinking the stories were far too important to be forgotten and hidden by territorial boundaries of local news reporters. How could someone in Florida read about another veteran going through the same thing in another part of the state? How could families across the country find support of other families after their veteran committed suicide? How could other veterans discover they are not alone? How could anyone change anything as long as members of Congress refused to honor them, tell the truth and do all they can for our veterans?

On August 9th I posted the story of a homeless veteran named Kevin on my old site. It came from the Boston Globe reporter Anna Badkhen.
NORTHAMPTON -- After Kevin returned from Iraq, he spent most nights lying awake in his Army barracks in Hawaii, clutching a 9mm handgun under his pillow, bracing for an attack that never came.

His fits of sleep brought nightmares of the wounded and dying troops whom Kevin, a combat medic, had treated over 16 months of suicide attacks and roadside bombings. He kept thinking about an attack that killed 13 of his comrades. He hated himself for having survived.

Soon he was drinking so heavily that the Army discharged him. He moved back in with his parents in Narragansett, R.I., and drank even more, until they asked him to leave. Less than two years after he returned, Kevin became one of a growing number of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are now homeless.

"I lived in my car, at the Wal-Mart parking lot," said Kevin, who asked that his last name not be published because he is considering reenlisting. He has been staying at a homeless shelter in Northampton since early July.

Kevin's tailspin encapsulates a little-researched consequence of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As more troops return from deployments, social workers and advocates expect the number of the homeless to increase, flooding the nation's veterans' shelters, which are already overwhelmed by homeless veterans from other wars.

I wrote this.
I really wonder what they think when they hear the words "support the troops" as they go to sleep in a car or in a shelter and no one supported them even enough to get help. Sad isn't it? NO! It's a disgrace! Supposedly they are in Iraq to give the people of Iraq a better life (well that was what they were told anyway) yet what kind of a life do they come home to? Supposedly they were in Afghanistan to defend this nation and take care of "homeland" security but you don't find it ironic they don't have a place to call home now because they went there?

There was something seriously wrong with this country when they came home from Vietnam, but at least a lot of good people wanted to make a difference and started the veterans homeless shelters across the country. At least they tried while the government turned deaf, dumb and blind to all of them. Now there is something seriously deplorable about this.
I kept tabs on what was happening in Massachusetts even though I moved to Florida years before this article came out.

There was an article on Medical Marijuana out of Oregon by Dr. Phil Leveque of Salem News in which he pointed out this study,
I was surprised to find the article, “Identifying and Treating VA Medical Care Patients with Undetected Sequelae of Psychological Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” in NCP Clinical Quarterly, 6(4), Fall 1996, published by National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Department of Veterans Affairs.
I wrote this part.
If you look back to historical accounts of ancient natural medicine you will find a lot of what we now regard as criminal. Self-medicating usually does involve marijuana with combat veterans because of the calming effect it has. Most the medicine we use today, comes from natural sources ancient people used all the time for health benefits. The research into the use of marijuana has provided much evidence that controlled use provides relief for a great deal of conditions. Heck there was even a time when cocaine was used legally to relieve pain. If ancient people used these natural medicines to address their health needs, why shouldn't we?

There was even a study on the benefits of Ecstasy in treating PTSD. Last I heard, this research was still being done. There was a woman who survived an extremely violent rape and suffered catastrophic PTSD. Nothing helped her. She was part of the study and was provided great relief when Ecstasy was used under controlled administration.

I was able to read it here in Florida even though it came out of Oregon.

On the 15th of August 2007 AP reported this,
Army Suicides Highest in 26 Years
By PAULINE JELINEK Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Army soldiers committed suicide last year at the highest rate in 26 years, and more than a quarter did so while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new military report.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Thursday, found there were 99 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers during 2006, up from 88 the previous year and the highest since the 102 suicides in 1991 at the time of the Persian Gulf War.

The suicide rate for the Army has fluctuated over the past 26 years, from last year's high of 17.3 per 100,000 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001.

Last year, "Iraq was the most common deployment location for both (suicides) and attempts," the report said.

The 99 suicides included 28 soldiers deployed to the two wars and 71 who weren't. About twice as many women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide as did women not sent to war, the report said.

Yet when you read the news reports lately they make it seems as if all this is new. None of it is. It is reprehensible especially when you think about the number of suicides in 2007 being touted as the highest in 26 years but that 99 hit over 500 in 2012.

Then the military had to turn around and explain how there were more suicides after the war in Iraq ended and after over 900 prevention programs caped off with billions spent on saving lives.  Oops, I forgot, that was just a dream I had when reporters demanded accountability from someone. No one had to explain anything.

No one had to explain to families how their son, daughter, husband or wife was laid to rest after surviving combat but not being back home when they were supposed to be safe. No one was held accountable as family after family made the trip to Washington begging members of Congress to prevent another family from knowing the anguish they couldn't find the right words to come close to expressing.  No one in Congress was held to account for their failures. No one in the Pentagon was held accountable. No corporation was held accountable after receiving funding to produce the opposite results.  No researchers were held accountable.

No one had to pay for any of these failures other than veterans and their families and no one ever will be unless reporters decide to do the work like what came out of the Washington Post. (The link to the work is still up and worth reading every single word.
Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility
The Washington Post
By Dana Priest and Anne Hull
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, February 18, 2007

While the hospital is a place of scrubbed-down order and daily miracles, with medical advances saving more soldiers than ever, the outpatients in the Other Walter Reed encounter a messy bureaucratic battlefield nearly as chaotic as the real battlefields they faced overseas.

On the worst days, soldiers say they feel like they are living a chapter of "Catch-22." The wounded manage other wounded. Soldiers dealing with psychological disorders of their own have been put in charge of others at risk of suicide.

Disengaged clerks, unqualified platoon sergeants and overworked case managers fumble with simple needs: feeding soldiers' families who are close to poverty, replacing a uniform ripped off by medics in the desert sand or helping a brain-damaged soldier remember his next appointment.

"We've done our duty. We fought the war. We came home wounded. Fine. But whoever the people are back here who are supposed to give us the easy transition should be doing it," said Marine Sgt. Ryan Groves, 26, an amputee who lived at Walter Reed for 16 months. "We don't know what to do. The people who are supposed to know don't have the answers. It's a nonstop process of stalling."

They ended up with a Pulitzer for this,
The 2008 Pulitzer Prize Winners Public Service Awarded to The Washington Post for the work of Dana Priest, Anne Hull and photographer Michel du Cille in exposing mistreatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed Hospital, evoking a national outcry and producing reforms by federal officials.

You'd think things would change but they didn't. We saw that when the Dallas Morning News and NBC decided to report on Warrior Transition Units, Injured Heroes, Broken Promises last year. This was followed by Congressional Committee Orders Wide-Ranging Investigation of Army WTUs in 2015 but as we've seen, more talk, more money, more suffering and no one held accountable.

Until things really change for the better, Wounded Times will still be here collecting stories from all over the country along with several others because no one should ever feel alone like I did in 82 when I read the words Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for the first time. If you think you feel alone now, then think how I felt back then before any of us had computers to use to reach out to someone else going through the same thing. One more reason why Wounded Times is here, is that it all matters!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Troops Medical Care Was Outsourced to Defense Contractors?

The following is just a part of what the Department of Defense paid out to contractors to take care of our wounded. Bet you're as shocked as I am to discover that medical care was not always done by servicemembers including the "care" we read about at Warrior Transition Units.
$1.9 billion bonanza
Brevard startup lands lucrative Air Force deal
Orlando Business Journal
Chris Kauffmann
Staff Writer
Sep 18, 2006

MERRITT ISLAND -- Not even a case of pneumonia could keep Jim Barfield from crawling out of bed and going to work Aug. 14.

That was the day the president of Luke and Associates Inc., a tiny, Brevard County startup staffing company that had never generated any contracts or revenue, signed a 10-year, $1.9 billion contract -- that's billion with a "B" -- with the U.S. Air Force to supply medical personnel to bases all over the country.

"I signed a contract for more zeros than I have ever seen in my life," says Barfield, who started the Merritt Island firm two years ago with partners Rich Hall and Glen Bottomley. "I wasn't surprised we got it once I woke up from passing out."

About 18 months of meticulous preparation, planning and research helped ease the shock of winning the contract, not to mention that Barfield is hardly unacquainted with the intricacies of winning government contracts.

As head of Barfield and Associates Inc. for the past 13 years, the 52-year-old former Bechtel Corp. employee has helped major aerospace and defense contractors (names cannot be revealed because of non-disclosure pacts) make proposals to win more than 100 government contracts with values up to $3.5 billion.
read more here

Luke and Associates, Inc. Awarded $20 million Contract at Fort Bliss, Texas
Space Coast Business
May 22, 2014

Luke and Associates, Inc. (Luke), a leading provider of medical and clinical services for the U.S. military, announced today the award of a contract to provide medical services at the Ft. Bliss Continental United States (CONUS) Replacement Center (CRC). Luke will medically assess personnel to ensure readiness for deployment and redeployment. This is a new contract which was awarded under full and open competition and is valued initially at $20 million.
read more here

Sunday, April 26, 2015

National Award for Warrior Transition Units Scandal Reporting

NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth Wins National Journalism Award 
The Society of Professional Journalists Recognizes NBC 5 Investigates Team
By Brian Hocker
Apr 24, 2015
"Our NBC 5 Investigates team and The Dallas Morning News were relentless in pursuing a Texas story with national implications that has helped many soldiers. We couldn't be prouder of these journalists."
"Injured Heroes, Broken Promises," the six-month-long investigative partnership between NBC 5 / KXAS-TV and The Dallas Morning News, has been awarded the prestigious 2014 National Sigma Delta Chi Award for Investigative Reporting under the Large Market Television category by The Society of Professional Journalists.

"Injured Heroes, Broken Promises" uncovered complaints from hundreds of injured, active-duty soldiers claiming they were mistreated, harassed and verbally abused by commanders of the U.S. Army's Warrior Transition Units, or WTUs. These units were created to improve care for injured soldiers after the 2007 Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal.

Just nine days after the first NBC 5 report aired and appeared in The Dallas Morning News, the Army issued orders requiring staff at all 25 of the Army's WTUs located worldwide, to undergo new training.

NBC 5's coverage about the treatment of soldiers injured in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting resulted in the NBC 5 Investigates team discovering the difficulties that soldiers faced years after they had left the WTUs. NBC 5 filed a comprehensive Freedom of Information Act request seeking Army complaint records at several Texas military installations.

"Our viewers depend on us to dig for information and sources not available to the average citizen," said Susan Tully, NBC 5 Vice President of News. read more here

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Almost Half of Warrior Transition Units Closing

Army Shutting Down More Wounded Warrior Transition Care Units
CBS Washington
April 17, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the second time in two years, the U.S. Army is shutting down a number of the specialized medical units that were set up at military bases around the country to help care for severely wounded warriors returning from battle.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have begun to wind down, the number of service members with complex physical, mental and emotional wounds and illnesses has dramatically declined, erasing much of the need for the specialized care.
Now, Toner said, commanders are better informed about what soldiers can go to the long-term care units. But the Army is also looking at refining its criteria for getting into the units, so that active duty and reserve troops would have the same requirements.

Currently, to be accepted into a unit, an active duty soldier must require more than 6 months of care for injuries, illness or other psychological conditions that require complex management and limit the troop’s ability to be on duty. National Guard and Reserve troops serving on active duty must require more than 30 days of care.

Toner said 48 percent of the soldiers in the units now are active duty troops and the rest are reserves. And, more than 1,700 of the approximately 3,650 soldiers are being treated for some type of post-traumatic stress or behavioral diagnosis. About 85 percent of those with stress or behavioral problems have deployed to the warzone at least once.
read more here
"Behavioral problems" seriously? That has been the way the results of improperly treated or ignored PTSD have been regarded. After all, on one side the Army says they understand PTSD and they are doing all they can to help soldier heal at the same time reality is a different story. We've seen the results of that as more and more OEF and OIF veterans commit suicide. We've seen the results over and over again as Generals slam them as being mentally weak at the same time other generals have the "intestinal fortitude" to admit their own struggles with PTSD.
Army cutting 10 wounded warrior units but keeping complex at JBLM
The News Tribune
April 18, 2015
The roughly 800 soldiers assigned to warrior transition battalions that are closing likely have enough time to return to normal duty or separate from the Army, Toner said. Some could be sent to different Army posts.

The Army plans to shut down nearly half of the special medical units it built during the Iraq War because the slowing pace of combat deployments and shrinking size of the infantry have been emptying these units of patients.

Ten of the Army’s remaining 25 Warrior Transition Units are scheduled to close by August 2016, Warrior Transition Command senior officer Col. Chris Toner told reporters on Friday.

The one at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will remain open and could grow because the Army is shutting three other West Coast sites in Alaska and California, a Madigan Army Medical Center spokesman said.

Closing the 10 sites likely will save the Army about $350 million a year, Toner said. Today, about 3,600 soldiers are assigned to the medical units, down from a peak of more than 12,500 during the Iraq War.

“We’ve seen a steady decline of our population over time. Thank God we do not have combat-generating casualties,” Toner said.

The roughly 800 soldiers assigned to warrior transition battalions that are closing likely have enough time to return to normal duty or separate from the Army, Toner said. Some could be sent to different Army posts.
Soldiers are assigned to the units if they need long-term medical care for wounds, injuries or illnesses. About 44 percent of the 66,000 soldiers who’ve been assigned to the units since 2008 have returned to military duty; the rest separated from the Armed Forces.
read more here
The Augusta Chronicle story on Fort Gordon closing their Warrior Transition Unit adds what most of us have been talking about because of the reporting done by The Dallas Morning News and NBC INJURED HEROES, BROKEN PROMISES.
Fort Gordon Warrior Transition Battalion closing
The Augusta Chronicle
By Wesley Brown
Staff Writer
April 17, 2015
Not all have left satisfied.
In the past five years, soldiers have filed 76 complaints against Fort Gordon’s Warrior Transition Battalion through its ombudsmen program – a total that ranks fifth-most among the 33 units in the Army that received at least one complaint.

The posts ahead of Gordon included Bragg (North Carolina), Hood (Texas), Riley (Kansas) and Lewis (Wash­ington state), according to a 389-page report obtained by The Augusta Chronicle from the Army Medical Command under the Freedom of Infor­mation Act.

About half of Fort Gor­don’s dealt with leadership harassing, belittling, intimidating or threatening soldiers, according to the report.

The remainder concerned the unit denying or being insensitive to soldiers’ medical needs, restricting family visits or not signing or extending passes, providing substandard housing or not granting lodging requests, and issuing unnecessary discipline or unsupported allegations of alcohol and drug use.
read more here
They are more than just numbers and the numbers you see are only part of the story. The rest of the story is what families go through trying to get them the help they need.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Warrior Transition Unit Soldiers Filed Over 1,000 Complaints

Can't help it. WTU Turned Into WTF!
New Records Show Injured Soldiers Describe Mistreatment Nationwide From Commanders at Army Warrior Transition Units 
(WTUs) North Carolina’s Fort Bragg records the most complaints, Texas not far behind
By Scott Friedman
Apr 7, 2015

New Army records uncovered by NBC 5 Investigates show injured soldiers have filed more than 1,100 complaints about mistreatment, abuse and lack of care from their commanders at more than two dozen Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) nationwide, many of those in Texas.

Those are just complaints made over five years to the U.S. Army ombudsman program, one of many places soldiers can complain.

Last fall, NBC 5 Investigates and The Dallas Morning News first revealed hundreds of complaints from ill and injured active duty soldiers in Texas.

Those Texas soldiers said WTU commanders harassed, belittled them and ordered them to do things that made their conditions worse at three Army posts in Texas: Fort Hood, Fort Bliss and Fort Sam Houston.

Now the new records, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, show the WTU at Fort Hood had the second highest number of complaints about WTU commanders with more than 140 over five years. The WTU at Fort Bragg in North Carolina had the most complaints in the nation, more than 160.

In all, seven WTU’s had at least 71 complaints about leadership over five years, including Fort Bliss. That’s the post where the Army Col. Chris Toner, commander of the U.S. Army’s Warrior Transition Command has previously said there were serious problems, “beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
read more here

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Army Heads Afraid of Reporters After Wounded Transitioned Into Hell

Wounded soldiers’ treatment not just a Texas problem
Dallas News
By David Tarrant, Scott Friedman (NBC 5) and Eva Parks (NBC 5)
Published on April 3, 2015

Complaints of Army harassment afflict transition units across U.S. and persist despite promised remedies

The Army surgeon general’s office is in charge of the Army Medical Command, which oversees the WTUs. Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army’s surgeon general, declined multiple requests for an interview. Army Secretary John McHugh also declined to be interviewed, citing an ongoing investigation of the Fort Hood WTU that began after the initial reports last fall by The News and KXAS-TV.

Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army’s surgeon general, ordered an investigation at Fort Carson after a soldier on the Colorado base complained of mistreatment by behavioral health professionals. She told Pentagon reporters in February that the case did not indicate a “systemic” problem with Army care.
(AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The complaints roll in from soldiers across the country.

Fort Knox, Ky., Nov. 4, 2013: “The leadership in his company does not care about soldiers, treats them like garbage and talks down to them.”

Fort Irwin, Calif., May 23, 2014: “The unit is dysfunctional and is causing more stress to the … soldiers than they are helping.”

And Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, Sept. 4, 2014: Soldier “felt threatened by the platoon SGT.”

These are not examples of a tough dressing-down of regular infantry by an old-school sergeant.

These complaints come from wounded, injured or ill soldiers who are supposed to find caring and healing at the U.S. Army’s Warrior Transition Units, or WTUs, but instead are experiencing mistreatment and harassment by superiors.

Many of the soldiers are getting treatment for physical or psychological wounds suffered in combat.

Since 2010, across the country, WTU soldiers have lodged more than 1,100 complaints about the way their chain of command treated them at more than two dozen WTUs, according to an ongoing investigation by The Dallas Morning News and its broadcast partner, KXAS-TV (NBC5).

Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, had the most complaints, with 163 reports in the five-year time frame; Fort Hood, in Killeen, was second with 142.

In November, The News/KXAS-TV investigation first revealed problems at three Texas WTUs. Reporters examined complaints filed to the Army’s ombudsman program from soldiers at Fort Hood; Fort Bliss, in El Paso; and Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio.

On Feb. 3, a top Army official appeared before a congressional hearing to address the problems at the Texas WTUs. Col. Chris Toner heads the Warrior Transition Command in Alexandria, Va., which provides oversight and policy guidance for the WTU system.

Toner confirmed that there had been incidents of “disrespect, harassment and belittlement of soldiers” at Texas WTUs from 2009 to 2013. At Fort Bliss, he said, there were problems “beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
read more here
Reducing Military Suicides Impossible Dream With These Folks In Charge

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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fort Carson Doctors Increased Malpractice Insurance But Didn't Change Practice of Mistreatment

This pretty much sums up what is going on when these folks increase their malpractice insurance because soldiers were trying to "game the system" instead of caring about causing the reasons the soldiers would even have to consider it.

This just goes to add up to the simple fact the rumors we've been hearing all these years are true.

Army Finds Toxic Climate of Mistrust for Fort Carson Wounded Warriors
by Richard Sisk
Mar 25, 2015

The Army's investigation of wounded warrior care at Fort Carson, Colo., last year found allegations of a "toxic environment" that at times pitted the command and staff against the soldiers in treatment and undergoing evaluation.

Fort Carson soldiers who received care at the Evans Army Community Hospital told Army investigators that they also received abuse as staff and unit leaders tried to force them out of the Army.

Meanwhile, doctors at Fort Carson took out extra malpractice insurance to protect themselves against liability and accused soldiers of attempting to game the system to get more benefits, according to the Article 15-6 fact-finding investigation by Army Brig. Gen. John Sullivan, the Chief of Transportation and Transportation School Commandant.

The climate of mutual suspicion was such that the Army staff sergeant whose complaints triggered the investigation secretly recorded his sessions with staff when he was warned by a Fort Carson social worker that he was being set up to be discharged without benefits for misconduct, or "chaptered out."

Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, who ordered the Fort Carson investigation, said at a meeting with Pentagon reporters last month that the issues were ultimately resolved to the staff sergeant's satisfaction and that the Fort Carson case did not indicate a "systemic" problem with Army care.

However, the Army confirmed earlier this month that a separate Article 15-6 investigation under the Uniform Code of Military justice is currently underway on new allegations of over-medication and harassment by staff at the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Unit in Texas.

Army Secretary John McHugh said earlier this month that he had met recently with Horoho and "we addressed this matter."
Last September, a congressionally mandated Pentagon advisory panel recommended that the military scrap its entire disability evaluation system.

In its final report after four years of work, the Recovering Warrior Task Force said that the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) was impeding the goals of wounded warrior programs to return soldiers to duty or ease their transition to civilian life.

"The current IDES is fundamentally flawed and DoD should replace it," the task force report said.
read more here

Friday, March 20, 2015

Troops and Veterans Still Suffer, DOD and Congress Stay the Course

I do not find any hope in yet more reports regarding the lousy treatment our soldiers have gotten especially when the same people are in charge after causing the mess in the first place. They actually think its smart to blame soldiers stating "Some of it is just personal make-up. Intestinal fortitude. Mental toughness that ensures that people are able to deal with stressful situations." You'll just have to go to the link to find out who said it and when.
Army Investigates Abuse of Wounded Warriors at Fort Hood
Richard Sisk
March 19, 2015

The Army has begun a fact-finding investigation into allegations of recent mistreatment of wounded, ill and injured soldiers at the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Hood, Texas.

Army officials confirmed last week that an Article 15-6 investigation under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice was underway at Fort Hood following reports that soldiers at the WTU had complained of over-medication, harassment and degrading behavior by staff. The allegations were first reported by the Dallas Morning News and local KXAS-TV (NBC5).

The latest Fort Hood reports followed a Congressional hearing last month that focused in part on allegations of mistreatment at WTUs in three Texas bases – Fort Hood, Fort Bliss and Fort Sam Houston.

Col. Chris Toner, head of the Army's Warrior Transition Command, testified that the allegations of staff treating soldiers as malingerers and other abuses were based on reports to the Army's own ombudsmen between 2009-2013.
read more here

Especially troubling when members of Congress don't get it either. They are more about Congress protecting phony boloney jobs instead of veterans.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Congress Protecting Phoney Boloney Jobs Instead of Veterans

Whenever a member of Congress decides to do something for veterans, it seems as if every other member of Congress jumps right on it without a single clue about what is in the bill. Everytime I read about yet another bill on the topic of suicides tied to military service, I think of Blazing Saddles. (Guilty pleasure confession this is one of my favorite movies.)

Governor William J. Le Petomane
Holy underwear! Sheriff murdered? Innocent women and children blown to bits? We've got to protect our phoney-baloney jobs, gentleman!

We must do something about this immediately! Immediately, immediately! Harrumph, harrumph!"

[Other staff 'harrumph' as well] I didn't get a "harrumph" out of that guy!

Hedley Lamarr: Give the governor "harrumph"

Staff member: Harrumph!

Governor William J. Le Petomane: You watch your ass.

This morning I opened my email and discovered a report on Senator Joe Donnelly pushing more bills right after the bubble wrap was cut off his last one. Why? Why is he repeating the same "efforts" that have come out of other senators decades ago that didn't work?

For Donnelly it isn't just one bill but a "package of legislation designed to reduce military suicides" leaving out the most vital piece of information. It's all been done before and didn't work.

Yet one more reason as to why I have no tolerance for politicians.

The other members are also pushing their own bills naming them after veterans failed within their own state. Why? So it will appear as if they really care about them and their families. Had that been true, in any decade, suicides would have gone down instead of up.

If any of them were really telling the truth then the VA would have no problems at all. Considering the first House Veterans Affairs Committee was sitting on their harrumphs back in 1946 there should be no veteran waiting for care they were promised.

We're reading the news reports about veterans falling apart all over the country year after year and then reading how this Representative and that Senator are doing this and that from reporters pretending they actually know something about any of this. Too bad they forget all too easily what they reported on last year when the outcome of past efforts caused more heartaches for far too many other families.

Top that off with taxpayers not only pay the salaries of politicians, they pay for the gazillionth bill because they love veterans and want to only see the best for them. The last thing they think of is how is making money off these bills and who is just trying to get votes for doing them. They want to believe veterans matter so much that members of Congress are doing things for them instead of to veterans.

What's wrong with all the service groups out there making sure reporters get it right? Why haven't they stepped up and said that it's all been done before? After all, reporters just repeat what they are told. The days of true investigative reporting ended a long time ago. That is why it was so shocking to read what the Dallas Morning News and NBC managed to do when they reported on yet one more failure the public was deluded enough to think worked.

(I posted on these stories as they happened but linking back to the original reports since they are still active. Thank God!)
Injured Heroes Broken Promises The war after the war
Wounded soldiers allege mistreatment in the Army’s Warrior Transition Units

Dallas News
David Tarrant, Scott Friedman and Eva Parks of NBC
November 22, 2015
KILLEEN — At a shop that sells vacation packages to soldiers in the Killeen Mall, there’s a shrine to Zackary Filip. Newspaper clippings, congratulatory letters from congressional leaders and a large poster of Filip in his Army combat uniform cover a wall.

The Denton native was named 2010 Soldier of the Year by Army Times for his actions while in near-constant combat in Afghanistan and just afterward during the Fort Hood massacre.
“Injured Heroes, Broken Promises,” a joint investigative project between The Dallas Morning News and NBC5 (KXAS-TV), examines allegations of harassment and mistreatment in the U.S.’ Warrior Transition Units, which were created to serve soldiers with physical and psychological wounds. Reporters David Tarrant, Scott Friedman and Eva Parks based their findings on dozens of interviews with soldiers, Army officials and medical experts, and hundreds of pages of military documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Filip, a combat-hardened medic, saved the life of a civilian police officer and treated many other victims of the Fort Hood attack that killed 13 and wounded 32 others five years ago.

By the age of 24, with a Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal with the V device for valor, Filip looked forward to a long, successful military career.

But the Army he served with such distinction wasn’t there for him when he most needed its help, he says.

When he began suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, he entered a special program — a Warrior Transition Unit — for soldiers in need of ongoing outpatient treatment. He expected to find the kind of care he needed to heal.

Instead, he once again felt under attack.

Entrusted to guide him through the greatest crisis of his life, those in charge of the Warrior Transition Unit, or WTU, showed him and others disrespect, belittling and treating some unfairly and at times disregarding their physical abilities and mental health.

“WTU made everything a lot worse — especially mentally. And I thought it was going to be great,” said Filip, who spent two years in the Fort Hood WTU until his discharge in September 2013.

Related Stories
Part 2: Wounded soldiers have complained of supervisors’ disrespect, unfair treatment and intimidation
Complaints about wounded warriors’ treatment pile up
Benn sought to help, but PTSD hindered him
Editorial: Wounded warriors deserve better
Army orders new training for Warrior Transition Units

NBC 5 takes a closer look at Warrior Transition Units
Hundreds of soldiers allege mistreatment at Army Warrior Transition Units
Injured soldiers question training of WTU leaders
Feb 21, 2015
NBC 5 Investigates has learned that the U.S. Army has launched a new investigation inside Fort Hood’s Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), looking at claims of harassment and abuse.

The investigation comes after NBC 5 Investigates partnered with The Dallas Morning News for a six-month investigation that revealed hundreds of complaints from injured soldiers who said commanders harassed, belittled them and ordered them to do things that made their conditions worse at three Warrior Transition Units in Texas: Fort Hood, Fort Bliss and Fort Sam Houston.

How about they start way back to when these units were set up after the Walter Reed scandal in 2007?

This is what we were told back then and it may sound very familiar.
Army Activates New Warrior Transition Brigade at Walter Reed

Each company will have a physician and staff who work with specialists in the hospital to develop a patient care plan for each patient-soldier. Before, the military medical system assigned primary care managers from a pool of managers scattered within Walter Reed. Now a 25-member cell of physicians, nurses and support staff will focus only the primary care needs of those in the brigade, Bell said. The goal is to develop a seamless program that improves access and continuity of care, he said.

The brigade has been receiving cadre for the past seven weeks. Most of the company-level leaders are in place, and all should be here by the end of May. Hartless said the first task for the brigade leaders will be earning the trust of the patient-soldiers.

“We have to gain their trust. They’re scared,” he said. “Things are changing again for them. Some are getting new case managers. They are getting new platoon sergeants. They are going to have a squad leader. It’s unknown for them. They already trust the medical part.”

Each staff member will undergo a cadre training plan that includes 55 briefings on topics ranging from an overview of the medical command, the duties of squad leaders and platoon sergeants, and the medical and physical board process.

Still, Hartless said, he will be keeping a close eye on how the new cadre and patient-soldiers interact.

“I have no problem pulling a cadre member aside and saying, ‘Hey, remember who you are talking to. This guy’s had a traumatic brain injury,’” Hartless said. “He has an appointment at 10 at physical therapy tomorrow. You need to make sure he gets there. You may have to take him. You have to know where your people are. Go check up on them.”

The first company to stand up April 27 is made up of the National Guard and Reserve soldiers receiving care at the center. After June 8, when the other two companies are staffed, those soldiers will be integrated into the other companies down to the squad leaders.

“They shouldn’t be separate. A soldier is a soldier is a soldier,” Hartless said. “It’s one fight, one team. That’s what we are going to do here.”

As you can see it wasn't fixed back then and it led to servicemembers being discharged by the thousands, betrayed by the system that was set up in response to a crisis reported on in the Washington Times. Hell, by 2010, things hadn't changed much either. Tom Ricks reported this for Foreign Policy
Here’s how screwed up the Army’s Warrior Transition Units are: Genuinely sick soldiers try to get out of using them

After 2012 with the record high for military suicides I wrote The Warrior SAW, Suicides After War, because families were pissed off all this was going on and the general public had no clue what members of Congress were doing about any of it.

Nothing will be fixed as long as members of Congress are more interested in protecting their jobs instead of protecting the lives of our troops and veterans. After all, they put their lives on the line while politicians just talk about honoring them.

In most cases, it is just one huge slap on the back and "We must do something about this immediately! Immediately, immediately! Harrumph, harrumph!"

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Army Investigating Fort Hood Wounded Soldiers "Dirtbag" Malingerers

This is one of those times when reporters gave a damn and told the truth about what was happening to wounded in the Warrior Transition Units. They were more willing to believe soldiers than the military and their efforts may end up saving lives of soldiers as well as reducing the number of veterans committing suicide in the future.

If you want to know why suicides have gone up after "all the Army did for them" then here's a huge part of it. Leaders allowed ranking soldiers to call PTSD wounded soldiers "Dirtbags" and treat the with such disrespect they were regretting trying to get help. Others noticed. So much for the Army getting it.
Army to investigate mistreatment claims by injured, ill soldiers at Fort Hood
Dallas Morning News and NBC5
Published: 20 February 2015
Ilana Panich-Linsman/The New York Times
Soldiers fold a lowered flag at Fort Hood on Dec. 30 to mark the official end of the war in Afghanistan.

But at a recent Pentagon media briefing, Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho responded to questions about an investigation involving a soldier found to have been mistreated by behavioral health professionals at Fort Carson, Colo. Horoho said that the soldier had not been treated with dignity and respect but that there wasn’t a systemic problem.

The Army has ordered an investigation into allegations of harassment and mistreatment inside the Fort Hood unit where wounded or ill soldiers are sent to heal, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the inquiry.

Two Army officers were assigned recently to look into the problems first raised in a joint investigation published in November by The Dallas Morning News and aired on KXAS-TV (NBC5).

An Army spokesman would not provide details, saying, “We do not comment on pending investigations so as not to prejudice the integrity of the investigation.”

Complaints from wounded soldiers at Fort Hood and two other Texas Army bases described constant friction between their medical requirements and the demands of a military culture based on order and discipline. The News and NBC5 focused on three Texas Warrior Transition Units where injured or ill soldiers go to heal. The Army has 25 such units for recovering soldiers.

Soldiers taking high-dosage medication at night for sleep disorders complained of being forced to make early-morning formation, which entailed driving to work while sedated. Others said they were required to pull 24-hour guard duty despite medical orders requiring them to get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Still others described a drill-sergeant-type culture within the WTUs where words like “dirtbag” and other slang terms for malingerers were used by some staff.
read more here

Thankful for NBC and Dallas Morning News Cover Mistreatment of PTSD Soldiers

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Soldier Audiotaped Encounters with Fort Carson Doctors

Fort Carson hospital reforms enacted after investigation into care of mental health patient
The Gazette
By Tom Roeder
Published: February 15, 2015
The sergeant said his medical care was influenced by the Army's desire for a discharge, including records that described him as a "31-year-old patient pending chapter (discharge) for misconduct."

The Army has come under fire for giving disciplinary discharges for minor misconduct to soldiers suffering from war-caused mental illness. Those other than honorable discharges, which can leave soldiers without their VA medical benefits, were documented in a 2013 Gazette investigation that earned a 2014 Pulitzer Prize. 

A mental health patient's audiotaped encounters with Fort Carson doctors led to a sweeping investigation of Evans Army Community Hospital and a series of reforms in patient care, documents obtained by The Gazette show.

The Army found that some workers in the hospital's behavioral health department were demeaning, patronizing, foul-mouthed and told the soldier that a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, would make commanders pay attention to his claims of mental illness because they would see him as likely to snap.

The 775-page report cleared the hospital of allegations that psychiatrists and therapists worked to push mentally ill soldiers out of the Army on conduct-related discharges but found they did feel pressure from commanders to clear the way for discharges.

A social worker and a major working as a physician were disciplined after the report. Fort Carson said the major "was removed from his leadership position."

"This incident does not speak to the core values or the common practices of the Fort Carson behavioral health staff," said Col. Dennis LeMaster, the hospital's commander.

The investigation began in May when a staff sergeant presented commanders with recordings made during mental health visits. It concluded in August when Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho ordered the hospital to retrain its behavioral health staff.

"The Evans Army Community Hospital commander will conduct a phased behavioral health stand-down to address issues of professionalism in the workplace; dignity and respect during patient encounters; the use of profanity during patient encounters; how to balance demands from the chain of command with providing objective, patient-centered care and proper boundaries when discussing benefits with patients," Horoho ordered.
read more here

It is almost as if they took a trip back in time.

This doesn't seem like the same issue reported on Army Times.
WTU problems aren't systemic News outlets in Dallas reported in November that hundreds of soldiers had suffered a pattern of "disrespect, harassment and belittlement of soldiers" at WTUs at Fort Bliss, Fort Hood, and Fort Sam Houston in Texas.This comes on the heels of another incident at a medical facility (not a WTU) at Fort Carson, Colorado, that had led to discipline against a physician and a social worker for actions dating to early 2014.

Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army surgeon general, affirmed that while even one case of abuse isn't tolerable, most of the complaints turned out not to be medical care-related and about 24 cases of harassment have been dealt with. And she said the reports documented issues that the Army already uncovered itself.

"They weren't concerns that an outside source came to us and said do you realize you have these problems," Horoho said at a round-table update on her command for members of the media at the Pentagon on Friday. "We have eight different avenues (for) our warriors and their family members to have their voices heard. When those concerns come up, each of them is looked at and then we take appropriate action."

But it wasn't just happening at Fort Carson
Hundreds of Wounded Warriors, including at Fort Bliss, were reportedly harassed and abused by staff between 2009 and 2013.

It has top military officials talking. There were allegations of "disrespect, harassment and belittlement of soldiers" at a place where they should have been getting help -- the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Bliss.

"Was there in fact cause for concern at the WTU at Fort Bliss?" El Paso Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso) asked Col. Chris Toner, the head of the Army's Transitional Command, last week at a congressional hearing in Washington.

And it was far from new
Critics: Fort Carson policy targeted troubled, wounded soldiers
Stars and Stripes
By Bill Murphy Jr.
Published: November 15, 2011

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Army Cpl. Joshua Smith saw the orange glow against the South Carolina night sky long before he reached his sister’s apartment complex. The fire in the back buildings was intense. People stood in shock, watching the blaze.

Smith leapt from his rental car and vaulted a five-foot brick wall, yelling at onlookers to call for help. He grabbed an exercise weight someone had left in the yard, threw it through a sliding glass door and burst into the burning building. He shepherded a mother and her 16-month-old daughter to safety, then turned his attention to the other apartments, kicking down doors, running room to room, making sure no one else was trapped. By the time he emerged, firefighters had arrived. The local TV news hailed the 22-year-old infantryman — home on leave after a tour in Iraq before transferring to Fort Carson, Colo. — whose quick action saved lives.

“It was easy,” Smith said later. “Nobody was shooting at me.”

Sixteen months later, in November 2010, the acting commander at Fort Carson, Brig. Gen. James H. Doty, pinned the Soldier’s Medal, the Army’s highest award for noncombat heroism, to Smith’s chest. It was the young soldier’s second valor medal in three years in the military, after an Army Commendation Medal with valor device that he’d been awarded for his combat service.

For all his heroics, however, Smith’s life was falling apart.

‘This pattern ... is so clear'

With soldiers coming home broken in record numbers, the Army has pledged to take care of their physical and mental wounds. The quick-separation policy at Fort Carson stands in direct conflict with that pledge.

The Army touts a zero-tolerance policy for drug use, but commanders have considerable discretion regarding how much punishment soldiers receive and whether they ultimately are retained or discharged.

Moreover, defense lawyers and veterans advocates point to many cases in which soldiers who tested positive for use of drugs once, or occasionally even twice or more — but who were not facing a possible medical discharge — have been retained on active duty.

Just last month, the vice chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, talked about the link between PTSD and traumatic brain injury on the one hand, and substance abuse and suicide on the other.