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No Sanctuary for Weary in Warrior Transition Units

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In 2007, after the scandals at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the U.S. Army created Warrior Transition Units meant to ensure injured soldiers would recuperate and return to duty or transition to civilian life. Today, about 7,200 soldiers are in 32 units across the Army, including 465 at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. But, through dozens of interviews with soldiers and health professionals at the post’s unit, as well as reports from other posts, The New York Times has found that Warrior Transition Units are “far from being restful sanctuaries.” Instead, the units “have become warehouses of despair, where damaged men and women are kept out of sight, fed a diet of powerful prescription pills, and treated harshly by noncommissioned officers. Because of their wounds, soldiers in Warrior Transition Units are particularly vulnerable to depression and addiction, but many soldiers from Fort Carson’s unit say their treatment there has made their suffering worse.” As one specialist in the unit says, “Here, you’re just floating. You’re not doing much. You feel worthless.” The fallout from the investigation is already being felt. Noel Koch, the Pentagon official in charge of the warrior transition program, was ousted by Clifford Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered a review. Koch, meanwhile, says he believes the decision was unjust and that he resigned “under duress,” according to The Associated Press.

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