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Fort Carson Wounded Warrior Abused by Doctor and Social Worker

An entrance at Fort Carson, Colorado. (Defense Department photo)
An entrance at Fort Carson, Colorado. (Defense Department photo)

Editor's Note: The following article updates the previous one to include Army corrections to misstatements made by Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho on the mistreatment of a soldier at the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Carson, Colo.A correction was also made to the soldier's status when the mistreatment occurred.

A soldier currently at the Fort Carson, Colo., Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) suffered mistreatment by a doctor and a social worker for several months last year, an Army investigation concluded.

The soldier was mistreated at the Embedded Behavioral Health clinic while he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment before he joined Fort Carson's WTU. 

The fact-finding investigation under Article 15-6 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice found that the two heath care providers engaged in "problematic encounters" with the soldier between February and May of 2014, the Army said.

At a roundtable session with Pentagon reporters Friday, Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho said that the doctor and the social worker "showed a lack of dignity and respect to one soldier" and had been disciplined.

Horoho said the mistreatment at Fort Carson was limited to the two heath care providers and "we did not find that there was a systemic issue."

The Army said that the complaints of several other soldiers dating back to 2011 were also reviewed but were determined "not to contain problematic behavior by the providers.

Horoho initially suggested that the abuse by the doctor and the social worker occurred in the 2009-2013 time frame but the Army later put out a correction to several of her statements to reflect that the Fort Carson incidents occurred last year and were the subject an Article 15-6 investigation.

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

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Army Wounded Warriors