Army surgeon general: WTU problems aren't systemic

Jason Perry

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This article from the Army Times shows that there have been systemic problems with treatment of Soldiers (despite the title of the article).


"Reports of disrespectful and abusive care at Warrior Transition Units have emerged, but the Army's surgeon general said Friday that the Army has gotten out in front of the media reports, and that investigations show the problem is not 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...

http://www.armytimes.com/story/military/benefits/health-care/2015/02/09/warrior-transition-unit-medcom-army-surgeon-general-patricia-horoho/23005627/
 

ssdlawyer

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I recall the director of BH at an Army installation, where there is a major WTB, laughing at combat veterans. I also was present when the Director of Clinical Services, an O-5, sat with me, and a soldier (who had been in the movie "Restrepo"), who was seeking off-post referrals to TRICARE for psychiatric care; the O-5 made fun of the soldier, said "You're nothing special." and--but for my barking in my best command voice to the soldier to stop using profanity (as he was growing angry and about to leap over the table) --the soldier would have assaulted the officer. This soldier was also a WT. etc.
 
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bjjwheels

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This treatment is in no way limited to just the Army. I have notes, notes and more notes from the last 2 years. When my marine gets out, these notes will be reduced to a complaint to someone, somewhere. So sad for them.
 

Busyarmymom

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I remember when I first joined this group, more than two years ago, and I was posting about how bad FT Campbell was and the terrible disrespect we were getting. I wanted to literally die. Many of my friends did die or attempted suicide from FT Campbell WTU.

I was "verbally attacked" on this site by other members for dare saying I, and others, were being treated badly at a WTU. Many people on this site said I was the trouble maker or I wasn't handling myself just right or I was overreacting to those who were condemning what I was saying. I was even told I must be one of those who didn't belong in a WTU, because the only ones who had issues at WTUs were those who didn't belong there.

Even one of the admins, in a private message, said I should lay off my constant negative comments about WTU, or I might be banned, because how did it look to lower enlisted on this site to see how bad it was in a WTU. This was coming from my own peers, and those who are there to help, but, very little help was given. Half of my entire thread was deleted for me standing up to people were attacking me for saying the WTU was actually killing people through lack of physical and mental care.

You have the ability to look up all my old threads, feel free. Am I shouting in some of those threads!! YES. OH GOD YES!! The world needs to hear how bad the WTU truly was!! But, who was told to calm down... the WTU? NO. I was. I left for months and months from here because I could not stand it any longer. I only came back tonight to look up something, and the top story I see is about how bad the WTUs are! :-( -- Not good at all. Now I am sick and upset all over again.

So, like I was requested, I DID SHUT UP like a good little Soldier. I shut my mouth so I would not get banned. At some point, you have to save yourself. I had to save myself. I needed to be here, so, I quietly read comments.

I am sorry people had to die because more people like me were forced into silence at WTUs, on WTU facebook pages, and on places like here. ----- Like I said then and I say now, the reason I was stating all of those things, is because they were true, and I never wanted a Soldier to feel alone in their frustrations.

I still have my 36 page complaint about FT Campbell WTU. It is basically trash (because no one really will ever be held accountable), but, I kept in case anyone ever doubted the mental hell I went through while at a WTU. Especially when we had 800+ Soldiers there.

If the actual Infantry guys were treated very badly in a WTU, imagine how a broken overweight female was treated at a WTU? I retired with over 20+ years in the service, and the treatment I received at the WTU FT Campbell will haunt me forever. Everyone thinks I was being a little negative in my comments here a year ago, I can promise you, the little bit I posted here, is only a small glimpse into the life at the WTU.

I am now retired and I don't have to hide too much my feelings of being there and the things that occurred. I am only happy the news story finally got out!!! I think I will be sending my 36 page report to the Army Times so maybe, they can set the record straight about "this is not systemic" -- yes it is.

I wish someone would pull FOIA reports on all the complaints which have been ignored, harassment (including sexual and EO), and attempted suicides in WTUs. I was there for 2.5 years. I can tell someone exactly what reports to pull and where from. We were forced to spread them out when we had complaints.

If things happened in the barracks -- The report either went to the FT CAMPBELL CMD, BUT, they could also be sent to TX WTU HQ IG or Legal, or they may send you to local IG or Legal, or you had to file report swith OMBUDSMAN, or through the ICE DISA HOTLINE, or etc, etc, etc.... see, if you pull one report, it looks small, but, they forced Soldiers to spread them out so there are complaints filed everywhere (like all the little hideaways in your home) -- once someone starts looking they will find 2 or 3 hear, or 2 or 3 there, or 10 here, but 10 over there. -- I hope one day someone does a full investigation on the WTU. BUT, I know, not one person will ever be held accountable for what went on... NO ONE.

I have panic attacks whenever I even ride by the buildings when I go to the PX. I want to throw up just thinking about the WTUs. I have nightmares and I can't sleep due to the WTU treatment, and I am not alone, nor was I one who was treated the worst!! I swear, I have seen good strong Soldiers brought to their knees due to being in the WTU.

I don't even want to know how many Veterans went home and could not cope after the hell of being in a WTU. It is sad, but, I am sure there are many whom are no longer with us due to no one caring.

Trust me when I say, the Army Times report is nothing compared to what really happens.

But, many of us tried to speak up, but, just like my comments were attack on here (where I should feel safe), we were totally ignored in real life. Too bad it took a few shootings of civilians and too many suicides to get the attention it needed.

If you wish to delete this, OK. If you wish to ban me or threatened to ban me again, OK! Fine! But, never let it be said I didn't try to let people know the truth. Maybe, just maybe, a news reporter, an IG person, or someone on here will see this post before it gets deleted, and maybe, just maybe, if I SHOUT loud enough, someone will actually see what Soldiers lived through at the WTUs.


I am sorry this is so long, but, the pain is deep, and I have lost so much from being ignored for so long. So many Soldiers, who went through FT Campbell WTU lost so much, and I saw 2.5 years of it. While deployed, at least you know your enemy, and when getting shot at, you know who to shoot back at, but, in a WTU, all the enemy look like you, dress like you, talk like you, and even smile at you. They are in charge of you. They are there to "help" you. ..... but, you don't know who to trust or who will do you real harm. In a WTU, you learn never to trust anyone. You learn that everyone could be the enemy, including other WTU Soldiers.

WTU was mental hell.


*** I was just reading over old PMs from one of the admins saying my individual disappointment with my local WTU did not serve as a basis for all WTUs, and I needed to stop putting down WTUs as a whole. ---- I literally want to throw up and I am shaking as I read that message and I know of many people in WTUs who have died since he sent me that message. ***
 
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Jason Perry

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You aren't going to be banned. Not sure what happened with your conversations with a moderator (I am the only site administrator), but sorry it was painful/unhelpful, etc.

You can send me a message if anything happens in the future that upsets you. I am unlikely to go back and "investigate" something from years ago. I simply don't have time for that.
 

ssdlawyer

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I still keep up with a civilian off-post psychiatrist, whose clientele is almost entirely WTB soldiers. He told me last fall how the BC of the WTB laughed at two of the soldiers, in the BC's office (during individual visits), who asked for an off-post Tricare referral (The local Army policy is now to save money by keeping all psychiatric care on-post, which means a soldier expressing suicidal ideation will be given a BH appointment, at least a month out. Oh, and the Hospital Cdr also has decided to render the hospital a neo-natal care unit, although it is not certified for that purpose; the result of which was that one child had to be life-flighted to a larger metro area hospital for care, increasing expenses, when the child and mother could simply have been referred off-post in the first instance (It being that a child had died at the hospital previously, in the self-designated neo-natal unit.)).

The BC Cdr laughed at the soldiers, and sent them from the BC's office, problem unresolved (other than waiting a month for their appointments, in spite of expressed suicidal ideation). Both WTs killed themselves shortly afterward.
 

nwlivewire

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You aren't going to be banned. Not sure what happened with your conversations with a moderator (I am the only site administrator), but sorry it was painful/unhelpful, etc.

You can send me a message if anything happens in the future that upsets you. I am unlikely to go back and "investigate" something from years ago. I simply don't have time for that.
Dear Busyarmymom:

WOW!

I am VERY disappointed to read you received negative flack from folks on this website!

I, too, had many, many issues during the time I was at both the WTU and it's subordinate CB-WTU.

I posted 100's of threads on this site as I was going through the IDES process - it changed to the IDES process just a short time before I was finally coded for a medical board.

HOLY COW! If the Army's Surgeon General doesn't think there are any systemic issues in the WTUs and their subordinate units, then this SG need only to open his/her eyes, get on this website and READ!

I mean honestly, if everything WAS going OK for the injured Servicemember, then this website wouldn't even exist!

As a senior NCO who was going through the WTU, and, who happened to be female, I KNOW I was treated with far less basic respect than many males who had less time, experience, knowledge, rank, and on and on by Cadre.

It was a difficult challenge for me to put up with all the daily crapola. the incompetence, and the "prison guard" mentality of Cadre toward the injured.

I wrote a 12 page letter to my entire COC - all the way up to the Senate Armed Services Committee members about some issues I found very troubling and impacting WTUs and the injured.

And perhaps by coincidence, three months later, there was a big change and shake-up made in the Behavioral Health Department on my WTU post. My memo may have added to the weight of straw already on that Camel's back. And though the changes made would not have any effect on my IDES outcome, I knew this shake-up would have beneficial impacts for all the SMs coming up behind me.

You did the right thing and spoke and wrote your truth as you saw it. This is exactly what needs to happen. This is exactly what ALL injured SMs ought to do when things aren't right during any time of their IDES process or during their time spent in a WTU.

Yeah. I was a "Bitch" - a "troublemaker" - "didn't know my place". These kinds of stereotyping and derogatory words are often-times directed toward females who do not or refuse to fall into line with unquestioning obedience to androcentric viewpoints and androcentric gender expectations. I was literally told one time that I was to "be seen and not heard"! My "feminine brain" couldn't possibly understand the disparate treatment as there isn't such a thing in the Army - right?

Welcome to the modern Army of the 21st century - Now keep silent, go home a broken Combat Vet, let the VA take care of you, and be sure to knit some sweaters for the Red Cross. Spoken like a true Army Ostrich with it's "head in the sand". Holy Cow!

In many cases, males who are injured get crapola, too. The "Suck it up", put on the "brave face", are other meta-messages get repeated ad nauseam by Command and Cadre to the detriment of the injured males, and impacts the pursuit of the fair and just outcomes of their IDES claims.

The PAs and Doctors as "Gods and/or infallible Popes" - and "How dare you question this!" further complicates this toxic cauldron of brew.

Not all WTUs are FUBAR and beyond belief. What is discouraging is that when things ARE wrong, when situations ARE left broken year after year - Command change after Command change - when senior Soldiers (NCO and Officers) fail to take timely and corrective action, and/or when there is little or no accountability in these and other matters that have a direct impact on the injured (military and Civilian players), this is what is truly troublesome. I'm sorry. This is not Leadership - this is Leadershit at is finest. Time to get ready for yet another log rolling.

Being a history nut, I read tons of books on all sorts of things. A few years back, I read a great book written by a Harvard Professor named Laurel Thatcher Ulrich entitled, " Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History".

I did indeed get a few "Aha moments" in my mind from this read, and I did indeed, get a broader understanding of gender issues through time and cultural contexts.

One big thing I got as a take-away is the importance of voice that does lend itself to change - speaking out loud in the public sphere - both verbal and written.

And I applaud you for your efforts!

V/R,
nwlivewire
 

tony292

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While I don't have the perspective of an overweight female In a wtu, I can give my limited perscective of "wounded" vs "Ill" or sick warriors at Walter Reed. I was treated as if I were a Malingerer and notes in my records by a COL neurologist stated that I had obviously studied and practiced my symptoms... And basically dismissed all of my claims. Yet I have all the symptoms of a motor neuron disease, and had to endure watching numerous amputees walking with prosthetic legs twice as Good as I could walk with my normal legs riddled with upper and lower motor neuron symptoms.

The ar y seems to glorify it's "wounded" infantry warriors, specifically amputees... And ignoring the rest. Ask a person with LOU Gherigs disease if they would trade thier disease with a simple missing limb... I guarantee each and every LOU gherigs patient would do so in a heartbeat.

Meanwhile, veterans routinely get LOU gherigs at 2-3 times the average as the general population.... But if a service member slowly comes down switch signs of this horrific disease, as I have they are treated as scum of the earth, malingerers, and fakers. And while I have not been diagnosed with it, one out of the ten neurologists I have seen in three years says I have it, while the Walter Reed col says it's all in my head.
 

nwlivewire

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While I don't have the perspective of an overweight female In a wtu, I can give my limited perscective of "wounded" vs "Ill" or sick warriors at Walter Reed. I was treated as if I were a Malingerer and notes in my records by a COL neurologist stated that I had obviously studied and practiced my symptoms... And basically dismissed all of my claims. Yet I have all the symptoms of a motor neuron disease, and had to endure watching numerous amputees walking with prosthetic legs twice as Good as I could walk with my normal legs riddled with upper and lower motor neuron symptoms.

The ar y seems to glorify it's "wounded" infantry warriors, specifically amputees... And ignoring the rest. Ask a person with LOU Gherigs disease if they would trade thier disease with a simple missing limb... I guarantee each and every LOU gherigs patient would do so in a heartbeat.

Meanwhile, veterans routinely get LOU gherigs at 2-3 times the average as the general population.... But if a service member slowly comes down switch signs of this horrific disease, as I have they are treated as scum of the earth, malingerers, and fakers. And while I have not been diagnosed with it, one out of the ten neurologists I have seen in three years says I have it, while the Walter Reed col says it's all in my head.

Yep. I understand what you're saying.

Malingering is a big issue.....

So is the accusation of faking.....

Gaming the system....
 

tony292

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Luckily, after Walter Reed, I went to the Mayo clinic, and while they couldn't quite figure me out, they could tell I wasn't faking and wrote it up as a "functional" movement disorder, and VA then translated that into "somatoform" disorder. Another civilian Neuro said I have primary lateral sclerosis, and so who the F knows what I have at this point, I just want out! When I'm sober, I walk like a drunk and when I'm tired or drunk, I walk like a zombie, dragging my left leg and all... But that Neuro at Walter Reed, yes he thought I was faking, like I just woke up one day as an 03E over 16 and decided to become a hypochondriac after 15 years of perfect health...
 

tony292

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it's was downright embarrassing stumbling around water Reed while watching amputees single and double walk around on thier professionally made made prosthetics with no seemingly no problems whatsoever. Not just the hospital, at the PX, hotel, etc. the army really caters to the amputee crowd but doesn't seem to want to lift a finger for anyone else!!!
 

fubar63b

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After I got a medevac back to the states. I had all sorts of issues with the staff at my WTU. I remember being reprimanded for not correctly making the bed with the 90's at the bottom. And I had a spine injury, foot injuries, and TBI problems. Another outstanding example of the care the Army showed it's wounded warriors was when we had to go listen to some general about how great we had it now and some soldier fell asleep in his wheelchair. That general blew up at him from the stage and kept it going for some time. I mean, sure you do that in a normal unit, you're done... but this guy was in a WTU in a wheelchair and probably on the same strong painkillers as the rest of us. Just a shame, hard sometimes to imagine what the Vietnam veterans from my father's generation went though.
 

ReinaCat

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We are USMC and while we have not experienced this yet at WTU/WWB, we sure have experienced it at Behavioral Health. His social worker needs to be fired. He is a retired officer just looking for another government pension. He could care less about his patients. Really sad. I too am documenting. My husband doesn't want to to rock the boat now. Just yesterday while we were stilling in the waiting room we watched a Marine complain and ask to switch providers. They flat out denied him and told him to give it a month and think it over. This is my husbands provider so I know what an ass he is. I said nothing as directed my my husband. I wanted to chase after that poor guy. My husband said it happens all the time. We also asks to switch it still has not happened. For now I have to attend every appointment with him so has a witness. I am actually afraid my husband may assault him.
 

chaplaincharlie

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scoutCC

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I think MH providers are very well insulated from the commanders forcing them to agree with them and to make their own diagnosis. There are examples of the MH providers being too isolated, problems are just as likely to come from a bad MH provider. Commanders have a pretty important role in the narrative too, and for an important reason. They are the main source for confirming the Soldier's story. If a commander just doesn't believe the symptoms are consistent enough, they can do a lot of damage with biased reporting. There are some commanders who just never will believe the symptoms are enough. Bad commanders are a huge handicap, and good ones are a fantastic aid. Especially for SMs the most messed up, the commander really needs to step up and help make the story make sense.


Not systematic is a strange conclusion. There are those who believe they are tasked with protecting the taxpayer dollars. There are those who believe they are deserving those dollars. Those perspectives are widespread and the conflict that arises is inevitable. These problems are inherent in the system, that social worker wasn't ill-advised at all. Its a simple truth that you have to protect your benefits from those who seek to fight everyone trying to get/keep them. To say the problems aren't systematic is an overly naïve trust in the protections in place. Those protections are often not easy to access.
 

chaplaincharlie

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@scoutCC

I've visited members, hospitalized for weeks, that were never visited by their command team. Later the commander had lots of input about what ought to be done. Commanders talk to commanders, including medical commanders. Medics ought to be independent of what the line CC thinks.

Thankfully, my own experience was the opposite. My CC visited me in hospital, but let the medics make medical decisions.
 
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