Washington, DC – The Pentagon must gather and report performance data on the physical health, mental and behavioral health, and education and vocational aptitude and capabilities of recovering service members as they progress through the Warriors in Transition programs, according to a provision authored by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) along with Senator Joe Lieberman (I/D-Conn.).
The language was included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Armed Services Committee today, and will advance understanding of service members’ adjustments during their recovery and one year after they return to duty or civilian life.
“I have no doubt that these programs have many inspiring and encouraging stories to tell, and this amendment would help those stories be told,” said Senator Collins. “Where challenges remain, this amendment will help program managers understand and address those needs so that every wounded warrior has the positive transition to health and healing that we owe these heroes.
“My amendment will ensure we’re measuring and properly analyzing outcomes to determine the effectiveness of the Warriors in Transition programs at achieving measurable, positive outcomes in the lives of our wounded warriors.”
Despite the reforms passed in the FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act, Inspector General reports, GAO studies, Recovering Warrior Task Force reports, and investigative journalists have reported that Warriors in Transition programs still suffer from significant challenges.
For example, the Recovering Warrior Task Force reported in September 2011 that “disparities exist across [Warriors in Transition] programs…information does not reliably reach recovering wounded warriors…[and] parity of care across the Services has not been achieved.”
In March, the Department of Defense Inspector General reported several challenges to the Warriors in Transition program at Camp Lejuene. The IG reported that “Warriors may have been at risk for not accessing the full benefits of tools and resources available to them...” and that without additional training, “personnel working with Wounded Warriors were at risk of not having the requisite knowledge to effectively assist the Warriors to heal and transition.”
And in April, the Army Times reported that there were claims of mistreatment of soldiers at the Fort Bragg Warrior Transition battalion. The Army IG investigated the claims and reportedly found that the post needs to improve the way it selects and trains its staff, and that the staff needs to communicate better with the troops in their care.