Guard soldiers to get more demobilization time
Published: April 22, 2011
The poor treatment of Oregon National Guard soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord's hospital last year has led the Army to make changes in the Reserve demobilization process.
Last year the service was embarrassed when staff at Madigan Army Medical Center characterized the Guard soldiers, who were returning from Iraq, as weekend warriors trying to game the system. The 180 reservists who needed care were told to go home for treatment, so the base could focus on active-duty soldiers - "their own boys" who were returning from deployment soon.
The soldiers complained to their Congressmen, and some of the Army's top brass ended up publically apologizing.
Now the Army will double the amount of time reservists spend on base when they get home from a deployment. Instead of the five to seven days, Reserve soldiers will have two weeks to get care and address any issues, according to Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Kurt Schrader, both Democrats from Oregon.
The Army is going to make it easier to admit Guard soldiers into Warrior Transition Units, where active-duty soldiers are assigned for long-term medical treatment. The new policy also establishes a Soldier Validation Board, which will oversee treatment and ensure that each soldier has gotten what he or she needs before returning home.
The Congressmen said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli has promised in six months to have the Inspector General look into the service's compliance with the new policies.
“Inter-service rivalry cannot be tolerated when it contributes to disparity in medical care for our Guard and Reserve soldiers," Schrader said in a statement.