By Debbie Gregory.
The U.S. Army established Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) at major military treatment facilities around the world to provide personalized support to wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. Usually severely wounded, these soldiers require at least six months of rehabilitative care and complex medical management. Also treated in the units are mobilized Reserve Component Soldiers requiring definitive care. But now, a key congressional committee is looking into allegations of harassment and mistreatment within the units.
The House Subcommittee on Military Personnel also called on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to gauge the long-term viability of the WTUs, given the decline in the numbers of wounded troops in recent years as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down. The call for the GAO investigation came as the Army planned to close 10 of its 25 WTUs.
The WTUs scheduled for inactivation by August 2016 are at Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Polk, La.; Fort Wainwright, Alaska; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Fort Meade, Md.; and Naval Medical Center, San Diego.
The Army has pushed back against the suggestion that allegations of harassment and disrespect by WTU staff indicated a pattern of abuse or systemic mistreatment, arguing that complaints along those lines were isolated incidents.
The subcommittee directed the GAO to evaluate how well the Army responds to complaints by soldiers in the WTUs and the selection and training of their leaders.
In a recent statement, Col. Chris Toner, head of the Army’s Warrior Transition Command, said “I treat all these allegations seriously.” He said he had a “zero tolerance” policy for disrespect and mistreatment by staff.
The Army Medical Command welcomes any reviews “in our ongoing quest to improve the care provided to our soldiers in transition,” a spokesman said Thursday.
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Military Connection: Major Investigation Into Army Warrior Care: By Debbie Gregory