Army Promises Better Care for Reservists and National Guard - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/25/03

Army Promises Better Care for Reservists and National Guard

The acting Secretary of the Army, Les Brownlee, is investigating claims by National Guard members and reserve soldiers that they're not receiving fair medical care or adequate housing. Secretary Brownlee visited Fort Stewart on Saturday. He toured the facilities where the National Guard and reservists stay.

Right now, 447 of more than six hundred soldiers on medical hold are squeezed into sparse barracks with no air conditioning. "We recognize this is an Army problem," Brownlee said. "I think even in late October, it's a little warm for a person in medical status not to have air conditioning."

The barracks have cement floors. Soldiers must also leave the barracks to use a bathroom. "People with medical status should have a latrine that's inside the building," remarked Brownlee. "They should not have to go outside to do that. That is one standard we will have in the Army."

Secretary Brownlee also toured Winn Army Hospital after soldiers told of long waits to see doctors and get treatment. "Some of these people have been here a while on medical hold status," he commented.

In response to recent complaints and concerns, Fort Stewart will be opening a Troop Medical Center on Monday. The center will specifically cater to reservists and National Guard members at Fort Stewart.

Secretary Brownlee said more improvements will be made and if the Army doesn't have the funds, he'll find the money through the Department of Defense. He added that Fort Stewart may not be the only base with these problems. His staff will be looking at all mobilization bases to make sure they're up to standard as well.

Reported by Holly Bristow, hbristow@wtoc.com

 

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