Health & Safety

June 14, 2012

Pentagon chief orders review of mental diagnoses

by Donna Cassata
Associated Press

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said June 13 he has ordered all branches of the military to conduct an extensive review of mental health diagnoses amid criticism of how the services treat the men and women suffering the invisible wounds of the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under questioning from a Senate panel June 13, Panetta disclosed that he had asked the Air Force and Navy, which includes the Marine Corps, to follow the lead of the Army in launching an independent study of how it evaluates soldiers with possible post-traumatic stress disorder. Panetta’s answer marked the first time that the Pentagon chief had said publicly that he had requested the review by all the services.

The Army review was prompted in part by reports that the forensic psychiatry unit at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state may have reversed PTSD diagnoses based on the expense of providing care and benefits to members of the military. In recent years, the number of PTSD and traumatic brain injury cases has increased significantly as the Iraq war drew to a close after nearly a decade and the Afghanistan conflict enters its second decade.

At the Senate hearing, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state reminded Panetta that the Army was conducting a sweeping review and asked why the Defense Department had not taken the lead.

“Senator, we are. What I’ve asked is the other service chiefs to implement the same approach that the Army’s taken here,” Panetta responded.

The Pentagon chief said he was not satisfied with the military’s handling of the cases and promised it would do better.

“There are still huge gaps in terms of the differences in terms of how they approach these cases and how they diagnose the cases and how they deal with them, and frankly, that’s a whole area we have to do much better on,” Panetta said.

The Pentagon has asked Jonathan Woodson, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, to oversee the review. The study will cover mental health diagnoses dating to 2001.

Murray described the pain of talking to a soldier who was diagnosed with PTSD.

“His family was working with him, and then when he went to the disability evaluation system, was told he was a liar or malingerer. He was taken out of it and he went out in the civilian world not being treated. That’s a horrendous offense,” said Murray, a member of the Appropriations Committee who also heads the Veterans Affairs Committee.

Earlier this year, Murray said that more than 40 percent of the cases since 2007 that involved candidates for retirement had been overturned. She said that of the 1,680 patients screened at Madigan, more than 690 had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The psychiatric team there reversed more than 290 of those diagnoses.

Murray said last month that more than 100 service members had their PTSD diagnosis returned after a review at the facility at Madigan.

The Army review, which will serve as the model for the other services, will examine how well soldiers can participate in the system that assesses their ability to receive medical retirements, including whether the appeal process is adequate and whether any nonmedical factors may affect the diagnosis.

The Army inspector general also is trying to determine if psychiatrists overturn PTSD diagnoses to save money. The evaluations are the key first step in determining soldiers’ disability benefits.

Earlier this year, the case of a U.S. soldier suspected of killed 16 Afghan civilians brought fresh attention to the strains of war and how it affects members of the military.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines March 2, 2015

News: Israel lobbies for more missile defense funds than Obama sought - For the second consecutive year, Israeli officials have asked the U.S. Congress to add more than $300 million to President Barack Obama’s budget request for their nation’s missile-defense programs.   Business: Inside one of the most intense, and unusual, Pentagon contracting wars - The much-anticipated...
 
 

News Briefs March 2, 2015

Italy resumes Navy exercise amid new tensions over Libya The Italian Navy is resuming exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, including near the coast of Libya, amid concerns about rapidly deteriorating security in the North African nation. The exercise began March 2 and includes anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and anti-ship training operations. The exercise was suspended for a...
 
 
LM-AEHF

Ingenuity drives Lockheed’s AEHF program to production milestone early

Lockheed Martin has successfully integrated the propulsion core and payload module for the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite nearly five months ahead of schedule. Reaching this critical milestone early a...
 

 

First all-electric propulsion satellites send first on-orbit signals

Two Boeing 702SP (small platform) satellites, the first all-electric propulsion satellites to launch, have sent initial signals from space, marking the first step toward ABS, based in Bermuda, and Eutelsat, based in Paris, being able to provide enhanced communication services to their customers. Whatís more, the satellites were launched as a conjoined stack on a...
 
 

GA-ASI, Sener team to offer Predator B to Spain

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. and SENER, a leading Spanish engineering company, announced March 2 that they have signed a teaming agreement that promotes the use of the multi-mission Predator B® RPA to support Spain’s airborne surveillance and reconnaissance requirements.  GAASI is a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft systems, radars, and electro-optic and relate...
 
 
raytheon-satellite

Raytheon’s ‘Blue Marble’ imaging sensor delivered on schedule

Raytheon has delivered a second Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite instrument to support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Joint Polar Satellite System mission. The second VIIRS unit will fly ab...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>