WOUNDED MARINES: ‘Someone is going to snap and kill themselves or someone else’

DoD Inspector General Releases Results of Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Battalion Review

Prescription drugs ‘out of control’ and ‘prison mentality’ among problems reported at Camp Lejeune recovery unit

by Greg Barnes
The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer, April 5, 2012

A recent U.S. Department of Defense review of a battalion for wounded Marines at Camp Lejeune suggests that the battalion is hampered by drug abuse, the perception of a poor command climate and other problems.

But the review – the third in a series to evaluate the military’s policies and processes for wounded warriors – was not nearly as scathing as an earlier assessment of the Army’s Wounded Transition Battalion at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Marines wounded in battle are coming home to recovery units called 'Wounded Warrior' battalions. A DoD Inspector General report released March 30, 2012 found wounded Marines are abusing drugs, facing delays in their care and oppressive command climates which inhibit their recovery.(Getty)

Although Fort Bragg’s Warrior Transition Battalion will not be part of the Defense Department’s assessment process, the post began its own inspection in mid-February. A report of those findings has been completed and is expected to be released to the public within 14 days, Col. Kevin Arata, a spokesman for the 18th Airborne Corps, said Wednesday.

Commanders for Fort Bragg and Womack Army Medical Center said previously that an outside inspection of the medical component of the battalion found “no red flags.”

At Camp Lejeune’s Wounded Warrior Battalion-East, the Department of Defense found a number of bright spots, including that the management and staff for the battalion and Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune are dedicated to providing the best available care and services.

But the review also uncovered serious problems, including:
Prescription and illegal drug abuse has resulted in inadequate order and discipline in the battalion and may have a negative effect on recovery and transition of wounded troops.

Those involved in the medical care and management of wounded troops said they lacked adequate training in handling of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and the medical board process.

Wounded Marines spend too much time in the treatment, recovery and rehabilitation stages – an average of 245 days. Case managers sometimes exceeded their caseloads, potentially causing delays or other problems in recovery and transition.

Camp Lejeune’s hospital did not have specific medication management policies or procedures in place to manage Marines who were prescribed multiple medications, including controlled substances.

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