Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Warrior Transitions

The New York Times recently published an article which slams the care being provided to wounded Warriors at Fort Carson in Colorado. Yesterday the Army Times published a somewhat different take on the situation.

I've spoken with an Army friend of mine, a physician who's familiar with Warrior Transition Units, but not affiliated with the one at Fort Carson. He told me that addiction of one sort or another often seems to beset wounded personnel, and he opined that perhaps addiction -- unrecognized and therefore untreated -- might play a significant factor in problems associated with situations similar to those described in the media.

Addiction becomes especially problematic if military personnel don't take medication as prescribed, but instead sell or barter it.

I've long wondered what might happen if the Cadre involved in Warrior Transition Units were themselves recovering addicts, active in the kinds of 12-Step programs that so many of my friends participate in. My hunch is that NCOs with longer-term sobriety (let's say, five years or more, for example) would be able to maintain good order and discipline much more effectively than non-12-Step personnel.

At least according to so many of my friends who go to a lot of those meetings, people in 12-Step programs can usually tell when another addict is trying to snow them.  They have a rather colorful turn-of-phrase to describe that phenomenon, but I'm afraid it's just not printable here.

I'd be willing to be that if there were some way for the Army to assemble a platoon-sized element of NCOs to staff one patient cohort of a Warrior Transition Unit -- without advertising that's what they were doing -- and then compare over time the medical and psychosocial outcomes of the patients involved with those from other WTUs, the former group would fare far better than the latter.

In any event, whatever else goes on, I pray that those who need care will receive care that addresses all their needs, effectively.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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