Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Noel Koch Wounded Warrior Program: Noel Koch Forced out of Top Spot

Noel Koch, the top Pentagon official in charge of the Wounded Warrior Program says Clifford Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel asked him, via email, to step down from the position. He was appointed to the position by President Obama in May 2009, and was the first to hold the title.

From Military.com:

Koch said he believes the decision was unjust and that he resigned "under duress" after Stanley told him he had no confidence in him. The Pentagon had no comment.
"No explanation was given, although I pressed for one," he said. "No prior indication of dissatisfaction with the work of this office was cited."
Koch said the wounded warrior program has done good work during the past 11 months since his appointment to lead the new office.
Koch's official title was Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy.  See his biography here.

In this role, he is responsible for policy and programs related to disability systems, Service member transitions to Veteran status, separations from the Armed Forces, and wounded warrior care coordination. He works closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies to ensure medical and non-medical services are provided across the full continuum of care for wounded Service members, Veterans and families from recovery to rehabilitation through reintegration.
Mr. Koch recently served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of TranSecur, Inc., a global security corporation providing information and support services to foreign and domestic government agencies, corporations, families, and individuals at risk from crime, terrorism and related high-level threats in the multinational environment. Services include threat assessment; vulnerability analysis; security systems design, implementation, and management; crisis management systems design and assistance; and, security awareness training for high-risk personnel. TranSecur, Inc. has offices in the U.S., the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
Mr. Koch is an expert on terrorism and security-related issues, with over forty years experience in developing intelligence and advanced analytical procedures for identifying and assessing potential threats to individuals, and institutional or corporate assets; and, providing security and protective services, including personal security details, facilities security, security force management, personal security awareness training for executives and other high-risk personnel.
AlterNet published a piece titled There Must Be Someway Out of Here, about soldiers suffering PTSD, and often, suicidal tendencies, after returning to the U.S. The road is steep for these soldiers - and one put it: "it's just a very dark place:"

Several reports last year exposed military foot-dragging on medical discharge as well as committing to diagnoses of PTSD....

And then they mentioned Noel Koch:

Of Course, Heads Must Roll
Call it a coincidence but, on the heels of the New York Times piece came the news, on Sunday, that Noel Koch, the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition policy had been relieved of that position.
And then a possible explanation for the need for new Wounded Warrior leadership:

Problem Not Responding to Appropriations
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is “just baffled” by the fact that millions of dollars and revamped veteran’s programs have not stemmed the ever-increasing tide of military suicides. Just this morning, this report ran in Army Times:
“Troubling new data show there are (sic) an average of 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans who are receiving some type of treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department. Seven percent of the attempts are successful, and 11 percent of those who don’t succeed on the first attempt try again within nine months. The numbers, which come at a time when VA is strengthening its suicide prevention programs, show about 18 veteran suicides a day, about five by veterans who are receiving VA care.”
Something is definitely NOT working here despite whatever tweaks to programs have been tried. There are now more veterans killing themselves than are killed in battle.
The military tend to dance around the obvious “suspects” of multiple deployments and abbreviated dwell time (time spent at home between deployments); basically, because they are strapped for volunteer troops and have to deploy and redeploy to keep “boots on the ground” in multiple war zones. And whereas the Pentagon has a virtual blank check for analyzing weapons systems and planning the Long War out to 2050 and fun stuff like that, it doesn’t seem to have the time, money or inclination to do a deep dive into the suicidal troops problem.
The remainder of the AlterNet article is a must-read. I can't verify all that it says, but it seems obvious that our warriors are serving multiple tours in war zones, and might need some extra help when they arrive home to assist them in moving on to living a healthy life, after seeing and doing things that most of us will never face.  I hope you will read it here.

Noel Koch is a veteran of the Vietnam war and served six years in the U.S. Army. A quick search of the Internet shows that Koch is a frequent contributor to many publications.

©2007-2012copyrightMaggie M. Thornton