A look at how Fort Leonard Wood handles substance abuse among its soldiers has Senator McCaskill drafting a law forcing substantial change in the Army Substance Abuse Counseling Program.

McCaskill put out a scathing report last year charging the Fort Wood substance abuse counseling program was in “shambles,” that it had poor leadership, was understaffed, and that the program had “administratively mishandled’ more than 175 cases.

She says the requirement that commanders be notified when one of their soldiers “seemed oriented to disciplinary concerns” instead of treatment. She says she’s continuing to demand information from the Army about substance abuse treatment opportunities. “Regardless of where a man or a woman in uniform is based, they ought to be able to get help,” she says.

The Secretary of the Army is working on ending the commander-notification policy. But McCaskill says

traumatic stress disorders, mental illnesses, and suicides are at a record level, and many of those issues are tied to substance abuse. She says the office of veterans affairs and the Department of Defense have not put enough emphasis on substance abuse–at Fort Wood and elsewhere. An Army spokesman says one-fourth of its drug counseling jobs are not filled. USA TODAY reported last week that the Army has no treatment facility for substance abuse and has only 150 beds for in-patient care at a time when the number of soldiers seeking help has increased by 25 percent in the last five years.

Download Bob Priddy’s story (:60 mp3)