Carl Prine, a staff writer for the Pittsburg Tribune-Review, has recently published a number of articles on Wounded Warrior care. In addition to the series of articles on the subject, the Pittsburg Tribune Review has made available a number of reports from the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy. The WWCTP made several visits to various military treatment facilities which provide medical care for our troops. (Click here to read the articles and reports.)
When it comes to my attention that reporters are not only interested in reporting on what is really going on in these Wounded Warrior units, but that they will research every angle and present the problems from several viewpoints, I am more thrilled. I can promise you that Mr. Prine is definitely onto something and I certainly hope he will continue to dig for information. Up to this point, most of the focus of this series has been on issues within the Army. I can guarantee that there is a plenty of interesting information about the Marine Corps which needs to be brought to the attention of the American people, or at the very least, the families of the Marines who are now Wounded Warriors.
There are many truths in these articles written by Mr. Prine. How do I know? Because the story is eerily familiar. I’ve stood by and watched as more than one Marine has entered Wounded Warrior Battalion-East, Camp Lejeune, NC, (WWBN-E) in hopes of getting proper medical care so they could return to their units and get on with their military careers. Unfortunately, many find out that they are stuck in a place where there seems to be no way out and no road to recovery.
Don’t you find it the least bit strange that Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker felt compelled to write a letter to be published in the Trib to inform all of us that the Trib’s Wounded Warrior series has “grossly misrepresented the Army’s commitment and success in caring for wounded”? This speaks volumes to me. Why didn’t he just make his comments as the series was being written? Apparently, he was given more than a dozen opportunities to be interviewed, which he declined.
I’ve listened to Lt. Gen. Schoomaker defend the Warrior Transition Units. He never fails to bring up the supposed 91% of soldiers who say they are satisfied with their care at the WTU. The part he doesn’t ever mention is how the surveys are conducted. In all likelihood, he has no idea himself. To better understand this remark, I will refer you to one of my previous blog entries, Are We Entitled to Our Own Opinion?
If you don’t know someone on the inside, particularly one who suffers from TBI or PTSD, you may not have the full story. I’ve been studying this issue for 27 months. I’ve lived the nightmare having a family member trapped inside one of these units.
I am well aware that there are many hard working and dedicated caregivers doing their best to help our wounded troops, but I am also aware that there are many who are mistreating our troops and must then cover their butts to be sure they can continue to climb the leadership ladder of success.
I beg to differ with Lt. Gen. Schoomaker on who is doing a disservice to the American people. I believe we should give that credit to those who continue to sweep the obvious problems under the rug.
Vietnam veteran and former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, Noel Koch, was picked by the Obama administration to investigate and alleviate problems in the Wounded Warrior units. After compiling and presenting the information discovered, Koch was asked to resign or be fired.
According to the Trib’s article, Documents show Army’s disservice to broken soldiers, when Koch’s report was presented, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Clifford L. Stanley, simply said, " ‘Wow,’ and then gave him a cryptic warning: ‘He (Stanley) did not address me (Koch) by name, but he did look directly at me and said the following: 'It is important to be careful what is put in written reports. These can affect people's careers.' "
This sounds more than a little familiar. I was told by WWBN-E leadership, more than once, when I was desperately trying to get some help for my son, that the Marines about whom I had made complaints were good men. I was told that bringing any such accusation to light would greatly affect their careers, therefore, there was simply no way leadership could move forward. Leadership went to great lengths to discourage me, but I fought back with the help of Congressman Walter Jones (NC), and I wait anxiously for the results of the DoD Inspector General’s assessment which was conducted last fall. Results were projected to be released in January, therefore, we could soon have access to the report.
What is even more interesting for me to discover is that when Mr. Koch visited WWBN-E back in October of 2009, I heard about his visit while the man was literally standing in the battalion. I’ve got the inside scoop on the inside scoop and I just figured it out! I’ve seen Mr. Koch’s name countless times in the media, but it wasn’t until I read the report, Wounded – Bragg Lejeune (Ft. Bragg, Camp Lejeune), attached to the Trib’s series that I put it all together. Imagine my delight when I looked back through my arsenal of notes and found Mr. Koch's name in my documentation. If only I had not been so naive and gullible back then. Maybe I would have called Mr. Koch. I had access to his contact information and was too scared to dial the number. Back then, it was impossible to figure out who could be trusted and I wasn’t far enough along in the courage building process to pick up the phone. Now that I have come to this realization, I have to admit, I’m even more upset about Mr. Koch’s forced resignation. He was trying to get to the truth and was abruptly stopped. How different might things have been if he had been allowed to do his job?
I want to thank Carl Prine and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review for publishing this series. It empowers me to come out from the hiding place where fear always takes me and tell my story. I can only hope that other families will read his series and come to the same decision. We have got to speak up and do something to help our from the hiding place where fear always takes me and tell my story. I can only hope that other families will read his series and come to the same decision. We have got to speak up and do something to help our wounded warriors, and we have to do it now. While Lt Gen Schoomaker and his staff are “working on the rest” there are troops committing suicide and dying in their sleep as a result of the drug cocktails they have been prescribed.