Gen. Lloyd Austin, the second highest ranking officer in Army, spoke to the troops Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which has come under fire for several high-profile incidents.
“Our purpose here today is to make sure we are taking care of our troops, our leaders, our families and make sure they have the right resources to do the right thing,” said Austin, the Army's vice chief of staff.
JBLM is where Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the man accused of killing 17 civilians in Afghanistan, was stationed. Last year, four JBLM soldiers were convicted of creating a kill squad that shot dead three afghan civilians And recently, a lieutenant colonel from JBLM was arrested for allegedly trying to hire a hitman to kill his wife and another officer.
JBLM has been called the most troubled millitary base in the country.
“That label is very unfortunate because what we saw here today is a tremendous amount of professionalism, both military and civilian,” Austin said. “They’re not not only working hard, but really proud of what they do.”
Austin wouldn't comment on the Bales case or the issue ofpost-traumatic stress disorder. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., took top Army brass to task in Washington earlier this week over the handling of PTSD cases at Madigan Army Medical Center, where Murray said 40 percent of PTSD diagnoses have been overturned.
Murray and other lawmakers met with Austin at JBLM over the PTSD issue Friday.
Austin admitted there are challenges at JBLM, but said he and other top Army officials are working to make sure the right resources are available to every soldier.