Five Army generals promised a thorough investigation Tuesday into complaints that National Guard troops returning from Iraq got second-class treatment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to make way for the base's active-duty brigades coming home from war this summer.
The Oregon National Guard troops, who served alongside I Corps soldiers, are "our own," said Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby, the Lewis-McChord and I Corps commander. He said officers at every level intend to see there is no difference in their care and service.
But Jacoby also said that the generals, who included the Army's top doctor and the vice chief of staff, met Tuesday with some Oregon soldiers "who clearly had the perception that they were not being treated the same."
Others believed they were getting excellent care, the generals said.
Jacoby launched an investigation last week "to deal with perceptions and realities" after U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, both Oregon Democrats, complained to the secretary of the Army about the "unacceptable way" the Guard troops were being processed through Lewis-McChord's medical battalion.
Many aren't getting the health care they deserve, while others are being released from active duty and sent home too soon, their letter to the Army secretary said.
They described a long list of allegations from Guard members, including:
• The Soldier Readiness Center has overturned physicians' decisions about soldiers' care to move them through the system more quickly and make way for the return of Lewis-McChord units.
• Staff at the center have told Oregon National Guard soldiers to "suck it up" and leave.
• Requests for second opinions by doctors have been denied in violation of federal regulations.
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