May 15, 2007 – A group of congressional staffers met with about two dozen soldiers, spouses and former troops Monday afternoon to begin two days of closeddoor fact-finding meetings at Fort Carson, sources at the post confirmed.
The gathering follows a call from nine senators to investigate whether Fort Carson has mishandled or ignored soldier complaints of post-traumatic stress disorder, and whether troops with PTSD were improperly discharged for bad behavior.
Prime players in the meeting include veterans activists Steve Robinson and Andrew Pogany.
Pogany, a former Fort Carson soldier who was charged with cowardice after he had a mental breakdown in Iraq, has been investigating soldier complaints at Fort Carson since his discharge from the Army.
He brought those issues to Robinson, who gained political clout for calling congressional attention to the plight of veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome after the 1991 war and continued his work by pursuing the mental health problems of current Iraq war veterans.
The PTSD issue was embraced by a powerful group of Senate Democrats, including presidential hopeful Barack Obama. Republican Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri also signed off on the effort.
Fort Carson hasn’t denied struggling with PTSD, which has increased from 32 diagnosed cases in 2002 to 539 last year. Commanders said in about a dozen incidents, sergeants and junior officers have hampered the care given soldiers.
Commanders responded with an education program aimed at getting every soldier from the rank of sergeant and higher to understand the needs of PTSD sufferers.
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