Serious Problems Uncovered at Marine Corps Medical Rehabilitation Facility; Staff Shortages Causing Some to Wait Two Months Between Appointments, DoD Report Reveals

Hundreds of Marines — like Sgt. Shane Hanley shown above inside a medevac after being wounded by an IED blast Feb. 9, 2010 in Helmand Afghanistan — are coming home to an ill-quipped, understaffed and overwhelmed medical rehabilitation unit known to Marines as the ‘Wounded Warrior Regiment.’ A Defense Department investigation released in August has revealed Marines routinely wait two months for basic appointments, are afforded poor family support and endure an average wait of 730 days to transition. Such delays, the report said, impede recovery and increase Marines’ risk for substance abuse. (Brennan Linsley/AP)

REPORT: Mixed Reviews for Local Wounded Warrior Regiment

‘Hope and Care’ has deteriorated into ‘Frustration and Despair’ for hundreds of injured and ill Marines assigned to Camp Pendleton’s medical treatment and rehabilitation facility; average time awaiting transition is 730 days, impeding recovery and increasing substance abuse risk, DoD report says.

10News.com. Sept. 4, 2012

BLOGBACK: It is important to note DoD’s report on its investigation of the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Camp Pendleton is a “redacted” version. What particularly stands out is that the report contains no mention of suicide, one of the most serious challenges faced by military leaders throughout all the services. In light of recent media accounts detailing record Marine Corps suicide attempts and completed suicides in 2012 — including recent self-inflicted deaths of Marines at Camp Pendleton — the DoD’s decision to omit mention of suicide attempts, suicide prevention, completed suicides and suicide risk factors among the wounded at Camp Pendleton may be an indication that suicide within the Wounded Warrior Regiment could be problematic. It is not possible to know what information was redacted in the report or the reasons behind its removal from public examination.

SAN DIEGO — A newly-released report obtained by 10News points to mixed reviews for a wounded warrior unit based at Camp Pendleton.

For wounded warriors, the path ahead is a challenging one. However, the challenge is sometimes made more difficult by a program designed to help.

“They’re backed up because there are so many wounded warriors,” said Todd Vance, an Army veteran and CEO of Pugilistic Offensive Warrior Tactics, a nonprofit that helps many troops afflicted by injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Vance said he has heard complaints about Wounded Warrior Regiment West based at Camp Pendleton. The unit is examined closely in a 168-page audit by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The audit gives the program high marks for quality of care and support for troops. 10News recently obtained video of the new Wounded Warrior Center at Camp Pendleton, which includes a state-of-the-art gym and underwater treadmill.

The audit also points to problem areas, including inadequate support for wounded warriors’ families, a lack of primary medical care managers and long waits for appointments.

Read related story on long waits Marines face as they transition from Wounded Warrior Regiment to civilian life.

In one case, a wounded warrior had elevated blood pressure readings but it took two months to see a primary care manager.

Vance says delays lead to frustration.

“They don’t go back for their appointments,” he said. “They just kind of shut down.”

The Wounded Warrior Regiment declined an interviewed but worked hard to address the issues, including better access to primary care managers, less wait time for medical board reviews and developing a comprehensive recovery plan for each warrior.

Two Warrior Battalion volunteers with experience working with Vietnam Veterans, homeless veterans, and veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan deployments acknowledged that there were too many “trappings” in the current transition process that made it difficult for Warriors to
transition.

More importantly, during our assessment we also observed that Warriors, WWBn-West staff, assigned medical personnel, and other Warrior support personnel perceived that the lengthy transition times in the Warrior battalion negatively affected some Warriors’ recovery and transition.

A Warrior Company First Sergeant (E-8) was concerned about the length of time Warriors were in the battalion. He described that his biggest challenge was how to keep the Warriors motivated during the prolonged periods they had to wait for their medical boards.

A Warrior Primary Care Manager explained that it was important to figure out how to transition Warriors in a timelier manner because, in her opinion, the longer a Warrior stayed in the Warrior battalion, the more likely a Warrior would abuse alcohol or take risks that would ultimately get them into trouble.

— DoD Investigation of Wounded Warrior Regiment, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Aug. 22, 2012 (Report No. DODIG-2012-120)

Read this story at its source:

http://www.10news.com/news/31411093/detail.html

Read the DoD redacted version of its report on Wounded Warrior Regiment:

http://www.dodig.mil/spo/Reports/AssessmentDoDWoundedWarriorMatters_CampPendletonFINAL_Report_Aug15_2012_redacted.pdf

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