Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho said Friday that investigations of the mistreatment of a wounded warrior at Fort Carson, Colorado, did not reveal any pattern of systemic abuse.
Horoho said that a doctor and a social worker “showed a lack of dignity and respect to one soldier” and had been disciplined. Horoho said the mistreatment at Fort Carson’s Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) was limited to two heath care providers and “we did not find that there was a systemic issue.”
She said the Army had also looked into similar complaints from several other soldiers at the Fort Carson WTU but those complaints had not been verified.
Horoho did not give details on how the doctor and the social workers disrespected the soldier and she was also not specific on when the abuse occurred, other than to say that it occurred 2009-2013.
It was not the first time the WTU at Fort Carson had come under scrutiny. In 2010, the Army disputed a New York Times report on the Fort Carson WTUs that detailed shortcomings in therapy, and patients becoming addicted to medications and suffering abuse from non-commissioned officers.
Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, the Army Surgeon General at the time, said that the Times’ story focused on a “select number of soldiers and families that were encountering problems,” and did not reflect the treatment of the majority of soldiers at the WTU.
Schoomaker pointed to an Army survey showing that 90 percent of the respondents from the Fort Carson WTU were satisfied with their care.
“Even with a 90 percent satisfaction (rate), you’re going to have some people with very complex problems that are not going to be in that satisfied group,” Schoomaker said.
Earlier this week, Col. Chris Toner, head of the Army’s Warrior Transition Command, used the same 2009-20013 time frame in testimony to Congress in confirming that wounded warriors at three Texas military bases had also been abused by those providing treatment.
The abuse was “largely associated with disrespect, harassment, belittlement within the three WTUs in Texas” – Fort Hood, Fort Bliss and Brooke Army Medical Center, Toner told the military personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.
“It concerns me, and I take it very seriously, when I have a soldier or a family member who believes that they are treated badly,” Toner said.
Toner said that the problems in Texas had been addressed and he was confident that the Army had put in place procedures at all the WTUs to “have the program moving in the right direction.”
The Army’s WTUs, and similar programs in the other services, were initially set up in 2007 following a series of scandals involving wounded warrior abuse at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The goal of the wounded warrior programs was to enable those who desired to return to duty or to ease their transition to civilian life.
Army statistics show that about 65,700 soldiers have gone through the WTUs since they first opened, and about 29,400 have returned to duty.
The Army last year began consolidating the WTUs as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wound down, but Horoho said “it is a concept we’re going to keep.” She said that the number of WTUs had been cut from 46 to 25 that are currently serving a total of about 4,000 wounded warriors.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@military.com