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Isakson faults lawmakers for problems in wounded soldier care
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U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), center, speaks with Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Todd Buchs inside the Soldier and Family Assistance Center after touring the installation's Warrior Transition Battalion facilities and meeting with soldiers in the battalion. - photo by Andrea Washington / Coastal Courier

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Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson discusses what has been missing in wounded soldier care.

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Georgia's U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson blames lawmakers, not the military, for shortcomings in medical care provided to wounded soldiers in recent years.
The state's junior senator made the statement on Fort Stewart Thursday after speaking with soldiers in the 3rd Infantry Division's Warrior Transition Battalion. He toured the battalion's facilities.
Having viewed conditions at Walter Reed the day reports broke of the medical center's substandard housing and treatment in early 2007, Isakson said the WTB living conditions and level of care given to each soldier's specific situation is an upgrade that has long been absent.
"That was missing, quite frankly, and that was not the fault of the military. That was the fault of Congress," he said. "It makes my heart feel good to hug those soldiers and talk to those who are now enjoying the benefits of what they're doing here at Fort Stewart with the money (Congress) has appropriated."
The WTB was formed in the summer of 2007 as part of the Army Medical Action Plan, a plan created in response to reports detailing shortcomings in healthcare services provided to injured troops, chiefly the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The battalion, which currently includes more than 550 soldiers, assists wounded soldiers as they complete medical evaluations and prepare for a return to either active duty service or civilian life, depending on the severity of their injuries.
WTB members are currently housed in mobile units containing four bedrooms, with two soldiers to a room. Each unit has a shared bathroom/shower and laundry facilities, phone, TV, refrigerator and microwave. Newly renovated barracks for the unit are scheduled to be available starting this month.
Talking with reporters outside Fort Stewart's Soldier and Family Assistance Center, where wounded soldiers and their families receive help with everything from legal to social counseling, Isakson said he was impressed by the progress being made in wounded soldier care.
"What I've seen today is the realization of what we've tried in Congress to actually do and that is recognize the challenges for the war fighter coming back and transitioning," the senator said. "Many of the injuries or wounds or circumstances they run into they need a transitional area, they need a way to transition back to their duty stations."
And noting Fort Stewart has already reached its re-enlistment goal for 2008, the senator added continued improvements in the care of injured soldiers could be key in maintaining the Army's strength and troop levels.
"(The 3rd ID has) already met the re-enlistment goal for the year and it's only the third month of the year, which gives you a pretty good idea that the soldiers like what they're doing, like the way they're being treated and the United States Army and the personnel at Fort Stewart are responding to their needs," he said.
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