No surprises in Carson visit 

A two-day fact-finding visit to Fort Carson by legislative delegates to learn more about the treatment of soldiers with mental-health and brain-injury issues ended Tuesday with no surprises and some common-sense approaches.

Aides for eight U.S. senators, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and staffers for Colorado Sens. Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard as well as Rep. Doug Lamborn, met with military leaders, medical personnel, lawyers and 21 soldiers with their families, according to Lt. Col. David Johnson, public affairs officer for the Mountain Post.

Although many of the talks were closed-door, three main points emerged, according to Johnson. Education and training about discipline and care, which was started in January, will continue. Additional training for enlisted personnel is being developed, with plans for implementation by June.

And, Johnson says, "Another thing we need to look at is communication.

"We need to have communication between the commanders and their soldiers on medication. What are the effects? Some leaders don't understand the medication."

Also, he says the Army needs to improve "mitigating the stigma" associated with mental-health problems.

"We do our darnedest to mitigate by getting leaders involved with their soldiers, but the Army is nothing more than a microcosm of society."

The Government Accountability Office, which was asked to investigate possible mistreatment of Fort Carson soldiers, did not participate in this week's discussions.

"It's important to note that we're not the only [post] the Senate and congressional staff is going to visit," Johnson says.

He adds: "I don't know if they were able to get their answers. We gave them ample opportunity to get an understanding. I think they're going home with an accurate picture of Fort Carson. I think Fort Carson is getting it right 99 percent of the time.

"It's that 1 percent we want to fix."


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