Injured Heroes, Broken Promises is the story of soldiers who volunteered to fight in some of the toughest places on Earth, carrying out their missions with courage. When combat left them injured, there was no safe place to heal.
The series of stories are the result of a yearlong investigation by NBC 5 Investigates and The Dallas Morning News that uncovered hundreds of complaints from active duty U.S. Army soldiers describing mistreatment, disrespect, harassment and verbal abuse from the commanders of Army Warrior Transition Units, or "WTUs," which are supposed to care for the ill and injured.
The half-hour long documentary was broadcast Saturday, Dec. 19. You can watch the full documentary at any time in the window above.
WTUs were created to improve care for injured soldiers in the wake of the 2007 soldier care scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. But more than seven years later, NBC 5 Investigates found a new system that left some soldiers still feeling they had been discarded by an Army that only supported and cared for them when they were well.
As a result of the reporting:
- The U.S. Army Medical Command ordered new training for commanders of all 25 WTUs worldwide, aimed at teaching them how to better treat injured troops with dignity and respect. The order came just nine days after the first report aired.
- The House Armed Services Committee ordered a wide-ranging investigation by the Government Accountability office (GAO) looking at whether there is systematic mistreatment at Army WTUs.
- The Army launched an internal investigation focused on problems we uncovered at the Fort Hood, Texas WTU.
- The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel held a hearing questioning Army leaders about the leaders demanding changes.
- One of the most powerful members of the U.S. Senate requested the Secretary of the Army become personally involved in resolving the concerns detailed in the reports.
Through interviews and multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests yielding thousands of documents, the reporting revealed how injured soldiers, particularly those with mental wounds, were often subjected to a drill-sergeant-style mentality. Our investigation learned soldiers said their unit leaders belittled the injured and even ordered soldiers to do things that jeopardized their medical care.
This story was the first to show both the volume and pattern of complaints from wounded soldiers spread across multiple Army posts. It was first to demonstrate that the Army’s own records showed commanders had awareness of these complaints for years and it was the first to report on Department of Defense records showing widespread concern about the selection and training of WTU leaders.
The efforts to obtain Army records, gain access to military posts and reach out to WTU soldiers involved hundreds of hours of work from a team of reporters, producers, photographers and editors from the two organizations. The team logged more than 10,000 miles of travel interviewing soldiers, military leaders and subject matter experts in Texas and across the country.