Pentagon to review how military handles PTSD cases
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has asked for a review of how the military diagnoses post-traumatic stress order, in the wake of a controversy surrounding a Madigan Army medical center team that screened soldiers for PTSD.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has asked for a Pentagon review of how the military diagnoses post-traumatic stress disorder, a request triggered by controversy surrounding a Madigan Army Medical Center forensic psychiatric team that screened soldiers for PTSD.
Soldiers at Madigan complained that they were improperly stripped of the PTSD diagnoses that would have qualified them for a medical retirement benefit.
That prompted a recent review by a Walter Reed National Military Medical Center team that reinstated six of 12 PTSD diagnoses.
Panetta, testifying Tuesday before the Senate Budget Committee, said he was "very concerned ... about what happened at Madigan."
Panetta said he met Monday with a couple who "had to go through hell in order to get the diagnosis that was required here, and that should not happen."
"I have directed our personnel undersecretary to look into this issue, and to correct it because it is unacceptable to have the process we have right now in place," Panetta said
The Army Medical Command is also investigating PTSD evaluations at Madigan, and how it compares to the process at other Army medical centers.
While investigation is underway, Madigan's commander, Col. Dallas Homas, has been removed from his position. The head of the forensic psychiatric team, Dr. William Keppler, has also been removed from clinical duties.
Panetta's comments Tuesday came in response to questions from Sen Patty Murray. D-Wa, who said she is concerned about allegations that Madigan's forensic team allowed the costs of providing benefits for those with PTSD to influence evaluations of patients.
Murray said that budget concerns should not be a factor in diagnosing a patient. "That's for sure," Panetta said.