Dumping Grounds

 

Posted by Lex, on February 7, 2011

 

Overstressed by two wars, some commanders in the Army have allegedly turned Warrior Transition Units – intended to smooth the way back to civilian life for those injured in combat – into dumping grounds for conduct cases, according to the Pittsburgh Review-Tribune: *

By mid-2010, the reports estimated 10,000 soldiers had sought Temporary Disability Retirement for catastrophic ailments a rising trend that was going to make the population “the most ever.” The reason the Army is reeling instead of healing is because of the Army’s own policies, according to Koch’s fact-finders. The Pentagon files indicate that commanders circumvent Frago 3′s regulations and hurt the health of all Warrior Transition patients by dumping on the medical units soldiers they don’t want to take overseas; everyone from cancer cases and GIs hurt in accidents to trouble makers, dope addicts, potential suicides and malingerers.

While often presented to America as special wards for the wounded, only 11 percent of the soldiers in the medical units have Purple Hearts or fell ill in a war zone, according to the Pentagon files. They’re outnumbered by the estimated 16 percent of the patient population that never deployed to combat and never will, but this tally varies by base.

A February 2010 report estimated that one-third of the 450 soldiers assigned to the Warrior Transition barracks at Washington state’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord had never seen combat. They were “high risk soldiers who are not ready to deploy and may display high risk tendencies” such as drug addiction, suicide and criminal conduct, the report said.

Georgia’s Fort Benning medical barracks also were “burdened with soldiers placed in there by commanders as an expedient means by which to rid their units of their ‘undesirables’ ” an ongoing problem investigators concluded was occurring nationwide and that “deflected or defeated” other patients trying to heal.

The reports allege commanders nationwide knowingly turn the special units into convenient pre-deployment “dumping grounds.” And the Pentagon team wasn’t the only one uncovering the problem: The Department of Veterans Affairs in 2009 discovered brigades doing the same thing at Georgia’s Fort Stewart, home of the Army’s Third Infantry Division.

I fully understand the exigencies of the service, and know how burdensome it can be to deal with “that 5%” prior to deployment. I know how “that 5%” can distract the attention of leadership at all levels, and hurt unit readiness. But dumping “that 5%” on the staffs of WTUs negatively impacts their ability to help our wounded soldiers from recovering to something like a normal life.

It’s shameful.

05-09-18 – Original link gone; replacement used – Ed. 

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