Government shutting down Fort Knox wounded soldier unit after $45 million upgrade
Three years ago, the military spent big money to build a new home for wounded and ill soldiers at Fort Knox -- but now, the government is shutting it down.
Tuesday, April 21st 2015, 5:01 pm EDT by
Tuesday, April 21st 2015, 6:37 pm EDT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Three years ago, the military spent big money to build a new home for wounded and ill soldiers at Fort Knox -- but now, the government is shutting it
was all smiles in Sept. 2012 when the the Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) dedicated its new home. It was a place to help Sgt. Austin Westermin and hundreds more injured soldiers either get back to service, or get out of the Army."
"I caught shrapnel in my arm and knee and suffered traumatic brain injury," explained Sgt. Westermin at the opening.
But you'll find fewer soldiers like Westermin at Fort Knox. The post WTB had about 600 soldiers last year, but it only has 200 today.
"In many ways, it's a good story in the fact that we're seeing less wounded, ill and injured soldiers, but as we see less we need to reorganize and become efficient as well," said Col. Matthew Rettke of the Ireland Army Community Hospital.
Efficiency means the military is closing this WTB in Aug. 2016 -- and we're told that by the time it closes, there will be few -- if any -- soldiers left in the program, needing care.
It's another hit for a post and a community losing soldiers by the thousands. Fort Knox said goodbye to its only combat brigade and closed half of its schools in the last year.
A group of community and business leaders is concerned. Brad Richardson of the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce released a statement saying, "We are presently talking with the department of defense about receiving some funding to study Fort Knox downsizing and its negative impact on the community."
The move may also trouble taxpayers. Built in 2011 specifically for the WTB, the facility cost taxpayers $45 million.
"Nobody can argue the care that we've given the soldiers," Col. Rettke said.
The Fort Knox Warrior Transition Battalion Commander, Lt. Col . Timothy Fanter believes it's not a sign of wasted spending, it's a symbol of a mission that's been accomplished.
Lt. Col. Fanter said, "We were stood up for the purpose of helping wounded, ill and injured soldiers and we've done that."
It's unclear what will happen to the four new buildings that housed the WTB. Army officials said they will be repurposed.
The U.S. Military is closing nine other transition units throughout the country.
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