Sen. Patty Murray questions Army secretary on PTSD issue

Armed ForcesDefenseHealthUnrest, Conflicts and WarPatty MurrayBenjamin Colton BarnesU.S. Army

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., questioned Army Secretary John McHugh at a congressional hearing Wednesday on what she said were "troubling aspects" of the diagnoses of U.S. soldiers'post-traumatic stress disorderand the recent reversal of 40 percent of PTSD cases at Madigan Army Medical Center.

"Can you tell me if this is an isolated incident or are there other Army medical centes that are changing PTSD at this rate?" asked Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

McHugh replied that there is an investigation under way to see if the PTSD diagnoses were reversed to save money.

"I don't want to say all those diagnoses and changes were inappropriate, but clearly when you have those kind of data, we want to make sure everything was appropriate," the Army secretary said.

Murray's concerns focused on Madigan's psychiatry unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) which is under investigation for changing soldier's mental health diagnosis based on the cost of providing care and benefits to servicemembers.

The Army is reportedly re-evaluating nearly 300 soldiers who have had their PTSD diagnosis changed by Madigan since 2007.

"Secretary McHugh, as you and I have discussed, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in my home state is facing some very real quesitons on the way they have diagnosed PTSD and the invisible wounds of war," Murray said. "And today, unfortunately, we are seeing more information on the extent of those problems."

JBLM has been in the spotlight recently for a number incidents involving soldiers based there. Four soldiers were convicted in 2010 of killing Afghan civilans, former soldier Benjamin Barnes shot and killed a U.S. National Park Ranger on Jan. 1 and U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is a suspect in the Feb. 11 slaying of 16 Afghan civilans that included a number of women and children.

 


 

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