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Increasingly, the Army is trying to treat traumatized soldiers "in theater" — where they're stationed. The idea is that soldiers will heal best if kept with those who understand what they've been through, rather than being dumped into a treatment center back in the States where they'll be surrounded by unfamiliar people and untethered from their work and routine.
However, the policy may serve the military at least as much as the soldiers. Treating soldiers on site makes it easier to send them b
4 counselors for 30 bases
The 5,000 troops that make up Task Force Mountain Warrior — which includes the Fort Carson soldiers — are served by a psychologist, a psychiatrist and two social workers. Collectively known to soldiers as "Combat Stress" — as in, "I had to go see Combat Stress" — this four-person team makes the rounds to about 30 bases. They arrive after any potential trauma: the death of a soldier, an arduous battle or a large roadside bombing.
Riordan said that as soon as the gunfire died down on Oct. 3, he decided the first thing he would do was go see a counselor. He'd had some sessions already in the States, though his treatment had repeatedly been interrupted by deployments.
But by the time he arrived at Bostick on a later flight from Fritsche, the counselors were gone. Two days later, he was out on operations again.
'I'm about to shoot somebody or myself'
"Finally I just put my foot down with it and I was like, look, I'm at my wits' end. I'm about to shoot somebody or myself and I need to go talk to someone," Riordan said.
"I would pause, and stare into nothing as thoughts of my daughter growing up without a father, my mother and father at a funeral, and all the other things that would happen filled my head," he said.
The 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Carson, Colo., has reason to be particularly conscientious — Fort Carson came under scrutiny after a string of murders by returned soldiers.