At Fort Benning, GA, recovering soldiers housed in the newly constructed "warrior transition" barracks have an additional challenge piercing recovery. Many of the soldiers suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the real estate adage about location applies here in full force — the recovery barracks are situated 200 yards from one of the Army infantry's main firing ranges.
Gun fire hails morning and night, hampering recovery for those afflicted. One such soldier who spent a year with an infantry platoon in Iraq and emerged with a diagnosis of PTSD said, "You hear a lot of shots, it puts you in a defensive mode. My heart starts racing and I get all excited and irritable [it] puts me back in that mind frame that I am actually there." Another said, "it makes me crazy. It makes me jump and I get flashbacks." To see what the Army says, read more.
The Army defends the positioning of the housing as convenient to amenities like the hospital, and maintains that if a soldier had a severe problem with the proximity, they would know. The commander of the Warrior Transition Battalion (an excellent name) said, "No soldier has talked with me about the ranges," noting that if it's an issue, "we will address it."
About 175 soldiers live in the gunfire-adjacent barracks, and 10 to 15 percent of them have PTSD. The total number who receive diagnoses of chronic PTSD rose by nearly 50 percent last year. One psychologist who treats veterans with PTSD says of the neighbors, "charitably put, it's very untherapeutic."
Is this a problem that should be addressed? What more could we be doing to ease a soldier's return from battle?