Reporting on PTSD treatment for Fort Carson soldiers, 9News omitted scandal that preceded it

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

KUSA 9News reported on the Army surgeon general's recent visit to Fort Carson to look "at how the Army deals with mental health," noting that Congress ordered "a task force on the subject." But 9News' report did not mention the reason for the task force: allegations of inadequate treatment or punishment made by Fort Carson soldiers who sought help.

During the January 25 broadcast of 9News at 10 p.m., co-anchor Bazi Kanani omitted important details regarding a visit by the Army's surgeon general to the Fort Carson military base in Colorado Springs to look "at how the Army deals with mental health." While Kanani reported that "Congress ordered" the creation of "a task force on the subject," she failed to note, as the Associated Press did on January 26, that the task force was ordered because of "allegations that Fort Carson soldiers who sought help for mental health problems after returning from Iraq received inadequate treatment or were punished" for seeking care.

As the AP reported, "One of the Defense Department's biggest challenges for an Army that values mental and physical toughness is to destigmatize the concept of seeking help for mental health problems, Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley said Thursday." The article further reported that allegations of inadequate treatment or punishment at Fort Carson "were made by soldiers who said their superiors refused to allow them to seek treatment for mental health problems. One was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)":

Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Barack Obama of Illinois, both Democrats, and Republican Kit Bond of Missouri said the soldier's allegations, reported by National Public Radio, brought up a "grave concern."

In the report, two sergeants said they often refused to allow soldiers under their command to attend mental health treatment sessions.

Kiley said he hopes soldiers can find help on base but would not stop anyone from getting help off base.

"I want soldiers to get help. I don't care where they get it," Kiley said.

Similarly, 9News quoted Kiley as saying, "We're not going to tolerate bias against soldiers who ask and seek help." During the broadcast Kanani also reported, "The surgeon general says the biggest problem is convincing soldiers it's OK to get help."

But 9News ignored the fact that Congress called for the investigation into Fort Carson's mental health services "after reports on National Public Radio (NPR) in December and CBS News in July that some combat veterans were provided inadequate care or were even denied treatment for their complaints of PTSD symptoms," as the Rocky Mountain News reported January 4.

The July 12 CBS News report stated, "In the face of what some are calling an epidemic of PTSD in the military, nearly a dozen soldiers at Fort Carson told CBS News that their cries for mental health (sic) either went unanswered or they found themselves subject to unrelenting abuse and ridicule."

NPR reported on December 4 that its "investigation at Colorado's Ft. Carson has found that even those who feel desperate can have trouble getting the help they need. In fact, evidence suggests that officers at Ft. Carson punish soldiers who need help, and even kick them out of the Army."

From the January 25 broadcast of KUSA's 9News at 10 p.m.:

BAZI KANANI (co-anchor): The Army's surgeon general is at Fort Carson looking at how the Army deals with mental health. Congress ordered Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Kiley to create a task force on the subject. Colonel John Cho, the commander of the hospital at Fort Carson, says 590 Fort Carson soldiers were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder last year. In 2002, before the war began, only 32 were diagnosed. The surgeon general says the biggest problem is convincing soldiers it's OK to get help.

[begin video clip]

KILEY: We're not going to tolerate bias against soldiers who ask and seek help. We're not going to tolerate it, and those circumstances where it occurs, we will retrain those leaders, or we'll take disciplinary action where we have to.

CHO: We have a number of soldiers that have redeployed and are downrange with post-traumatic stress disorder and have been treated effectively.

[end video clip]

KANANI: Of the 590 at Fort Carson diagnosed with PTSD last year, about 120 were referred to a medical board to evaluate whether they needed to be discharged.

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