May 16, 2007 – After two days of closed-door meetings to investigate whether Fort Carson is adequately caring for soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, commanders and their critics walked away satisfied Tuesday.
Army leaders said they picked up valuable tips and were able to showcase their good works during the congressional fact-finding trip. Veterans advocates said they’re satisfied now that the Army is listening to their concerns.
The panel of Senate staffers spent most of its time in meetings with soldiers and family members who have complained their mental-health issues were mishandled or ignored by the Army.
The staffers will report back to their bosses, including three top Democrats who were represented, John Kerry, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Steve Robinson of Veterans For America said he had a private meeting with Maj. Gen. Jeffery W. Hammond, the 4th Infantry Division commander, and said things appear to be headed in the right direction.
The 4th ID headquarters will move to Fort Carson by 2010.
Lt. Col. David Johnson, a post spokesman, said he’s satisfied that top leaders got to showcase Fort Carson’s successes to the congressional crowd.
Johnson said Fort Carson commanders learned that more education of soldiers on the impacts of PTSD is necessary. Most of the complaints at the post stem from insensitivity from sergeants or junior officers toward troops with PTSD.
The post launched an education campaign this year, and Johnson said those efforts will be redoubled.
Robinson said he got assurances from Hammond that his group will have input into what soldiers are taught about the stress disorder.
Johnson said commanders also learned that they need to more closely track the medical conditions of their soldiers.
“By all means we’re not perfect,” Johnson said. “We have challenges ahead of us.”