The story reflects that despite efforts of the Air Force and Army to embrace and accept the problems associated with multiple deployments and Mental Health to include looking at innovative treatments, the Army continues to face a Mental Health Crisis at some bases.
Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, Veterans Today News
Post-Deployment Needs of 4th Infantry Rise Sharply
May 24, 2010 – According to Army Times, nearly 1,000 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team have been identified as needing special counseling when they get home from their yearlong tour in Afghanistan, Fort Carson officials said.
The impact will be so significant that the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) at Fort Carson, Colo., may have to expand – just to accommodate the 4-4th combat veterans.
Veterans Today Editorial Comment: Recall the problems that Army Surgeon General Schoomaker noted with WTU and how some Oregon National Guard troops felt like they were being treated literally like Weekend Warriors.
It was a difficult deployment for the 4-4th, which suffered among the heaviest casu
alties since the start of the war. Thirty-nine soldiers were killed and nearly 500 wounded during 12 months in Afghanistan. The now-infamous Combat Outpost Keating battle in October 2009 took eight 4-4th soldiers and left 24 wounded.
Given the rough deployment, medical professionals did one-onone screenings with every soldier in the brigade before they left the war zone. Based upon their answers – and input from commanders – soldiers were classified as red, green or amber, based upon officials’ concerns about their ability to transition back to society after such a difficult deployment.
The Enhanced Medical Exam of the 3,800 soldiers in the 4-4th rated 21 soldiers “red,” 917 “amber” and the rest “green.” “Red” soldiers are identified as needing immediate help; “amber” soldiers are considered to be susceptible to behavioral health problems, while “green” soldiers are those who seemed less scarred by the deployment.
The designation determines what happens when they get home. “The red ones will be met at the ramp,” said Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins, commander of the 4th Infantry Division. They will be met by licensed behavioral health providers – psychologists, psychiatrists and clinical social workers to determine if they need special immediate treatment.
The amber ones are assigned to the Soldier Readiness Center Behavioral Health Section for further evaluation.
The WTU today has four companies, housing 485 soldiers assigned there. To accommodate the returning 4th BCT, the WTU may add a fifth company to handle an expected 100 soldiers from the 4-4th.
The soldiers of the 4-4th will get more screening after they arrive home this month. Each of them will be re-interviewed before they go on block leave – a month long break after redeployment. And when they return from leave, they will again be screened because Army medical experts have found that soldiers develop problems during “transition” periods, such as re-deployments, changes of station and transfers.
Over the next few years, the Army plans to spend $1.2 billion to build WTU “campuses” at 20 military bases. Each campus will be built close to a military hospital and will include a barracks, a family resource center and other facilities geared toward the recuperating soldier.
The first facility built from the ground up will open soon at Fort Riley, Kan.