Drug Addictions Affecting Wounded Soldiers

Deborah Shipley's picture

According to a new report made public this week, 25% to 35% of soldiers wounded in combat, or injured, are also dealing with the added problem of addiction to drugs, mainly prescription narcotics.

The estimated percentages come from information given by medical personnel at the Warrior Transition Units. The warrior units were created in 2007 after reports detailed poorly managed care at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

The case managers and nurses from these units told investigators that 25% to 35% of soldiers receiving care "are over-medicated, abuse prescriptions and have access to illegal drugs."

The Warrior Transition Units have become costly and wounded soldiers are often waiting more than a year for medical discharge.

The report says, “Not only is this bad for the Army, it (is) also bad for the individual soldier. He or she languishes in a system that, despite the best efforts of commanders, medical providers and social workers, delays their return to civilian life."


Tensions can run high amongst soldiers frustrated with delays in discharge from the Army. Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff claim they have been assaulted or threatened by irate soldiers ready to get their clearance to go home.

Army Col. Darryl Williams, commander of Warrior Transition Units talks about these allegations saying, "I'm very concerned about folks and their personal safety. "I'm going after that really, really hard."

Williams does, however, refute the drug dependance and addiction percentages in the report saying that the percentages were based on estimates made by case managers and nurses working with troops, and are not statistically valid.

The healthcare workers from the warrior units stated that soldiers arrive with narcotics provided by battlefield doctors, or military hospitals. They even went on to say that some soldiers seemed to have access to illegal narcotics that were being mixed in with the legal drugs.

According to the report the discharge process takes anywhere from seven to 24 months and the process is “complex, disjointed, or hard to understand.” The reports also says that approximately three out of four soldiers in the warrior units leave the Army, or active duty.

For more info on assistance after being discharged from the Army visit: http://www.vetsfirst.org/military-separation-guide/