Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Chief of Staff Raymond T. Odierno announced today the start of a comprehensive, Army-wide review of soldier behavioral health diagnoses and evaluations.
“We owe it to every soldier to ensure that he or she receives the care they need and deserve,” said McHugh. “Just as our behavioral health professionals are committed to providing the best possible care, we, too, must ensure that our processes and procedures are thorough, fair and conducted in accordance with appropriate, consistent medical standards.”
The announcement comes following revelations that some soldiers diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) had that finding rejected during a subsequent evaluation at the Madigan Army Medical Center near Tacoma, Wash. The Army is currently reviewing those cases and, in some instances, determined that the original PTSD diagnoses were more accurate. The Army will now review diagnoses and evaluations made at its remaining medical facilities. Such diagnoses are the first step in a soldier’s evaluation for disability benefits. [emphasis mine]
“In addition to reviewing behavioral health diagnoses, we will develop a detailed action plan to identify, analyze and, if needed, correct behavioral health policy, procedure or programmatic issues in the Army’s implementation of these vital systems,” said Odierno.
McHugh and Odierno said that the effort will be led by their respective deputies, Undersecretary of the Army Joseph Westphal and Vice Chief of Staff Lloyd Austin. “Secretary Westphal and General Austin have the experience, leadership and know-how to find any problems, and fix them quickly,” they said. “Reviewing our processes and policies will ensure that we apply an appropriate standard at every installation -- one that is influenced only by the opinion and expertise of our medical professionals.”
Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler will serve as special advisor to the effort. “If a soldier is wounded in the arm or the leg, we know what we need to do to treat their wound and get them the care and treatment they need,” Chandler said. “PTSD isn’t something you can see, often making it harder to detect.”
“These challenges require us to strengthen our efforts,” McHugh said. “And that starts with the correct evaluation and proper medical diagnoses.”