St. Louis Public Radio News
12:11 am
Wed January 28, 2009

McCaskill calls for overhaul of military drug, alcohol treatment programs

St. Louis – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill said she wants the military to overhaul drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs throughout the armed forces.

The Missouri Democrat said the programs are plagued by understaffing, mismanagement and a lack of anonymity. She said a whistleblower at Fort Leonard Wood brought the problems to her attention last year.

"What I've been doing is trying to expand our look-see beyond Fort Leonard Wood, where they have taken steps to correct the problem, and look at it military wide, to make sure people asking for help can get it," McCaskill said.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told McCaskill he'll investigate problems with prescription drug abuse at Fort Leonard Wood and other bases.

Army records show legal painkiller use by injured troops has increased nearly 70 percent since the start of the Iraq war.

Last year eight Fort Leonard Wood soldiers were convicted of illegal drug use or distribution. Five more await courts martial on similar charges.