- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 27, 2009

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) | Soldiers recovering in special Army medical units have faced inconsistent discipline because the military hasn’t adopted standards for how they and their commanders should act, according to a military review.

The report obtained Tuesday by the Associated Press said the units’ leaders need better training and should do a better job of communicating with the almost 9,000 wounded and ill soldiers in the Warrior Transition system.

The 34 Warrior Transition units were set up two years ago to help soldiers navigate the medical system and monitor their progress and treatment following the scandal over shoddy conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

The review was ordered in March after the AP reported on soldier complaints that officers were indifferent to their medical needs and punished them for the very injuries that landed them in the unit.

“The lack of policy specifically stipulating Army expectations of Warriors in Transition contributes to misperceptions among soldiers and leaders and leads to inconsistent application of Army regulations and discipline,” reads an executive summary of the report by the Army Surgeon General, which reviewed all discipline taken against soldiers in Warrior Transition units.

Army officials said Wednesday they’ve clarified expectations since the review was completed in May, but stressed that a new standard was not created.

“This policy is basically a re-communication of things that apply to all soldiers with the added uniqueness of the WTU’s situation,” said Robert Moore, spokesman for the Warrior Transition Command.

At the time of the complaints, officers who oversaw Fort Bragg’s Warrior Transition Battalion said they held the wounded and ill soldiers to the same performance standards as able-bodied troops, arguing that it helps them get back into fighting shape. Since then, the unit’s leadership has changed as part of a standard rotation.

The May report by the Army Surgeon General said that overall it appeared injuries weren’t being overlooked in disciplinary matters at the units.

Soldiers in the Fort Bragg unit told the Secretary of the Army earlier this year that they feel forgotten by the military and that combat duty would be better than the treatment they get now, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press.

The Surgeon General’s report suggested ways to improve communication between commanders and soldiers.

“Commanders at all levels must establish routine interaction and personal meetings with either individual soldiers, or small groups of soldiers to establish confidence that the chain of command is accessible, responsive and compassionate,” the report concluded.

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