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The Army created Warrior Transition Units two years ago, after it was throttled by media reports of horrific conditions facing wounded soldiers.

When created, WTUs were cast as kind of sanctuaries. They'd free up space in combat units while giving the sick and wounded space and time to heal before returning to duty or taking medical retirements.

Too bad it hasn't always worked that way, according to more than a half-dozen current and former members of Fort Carson's WTU who spoke to the Independent about their experiences here.

Part of the story is about policy changes: As WTUs reached maximum size in June 2008, the Army quietly restricted access to them, making them available only to soldiers requiring six months or more of complex and coordinated care. Fort Carson's WTU once counted 950 soldiers, by one estimate, before shrinking to the current size of around 450.

That may have hurt some who couldn't get into the WTU, including Valerie Lira, whose choices — deploy with your unit or get out — leave her struggling now.

Others say the units have failed to change a culture that considers injured and sick soldiers to be a drain on resources.

The names, faces and circumstances may be new, but the old fight to get care continues.

— Anthony Lane

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