Sus­pect de­ployed from base with PTSD fail­ure

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY SHAUN WATERMAN

The sol­dier sus­pected in a shoot­ing ram­page in Afghanistan was de­ployed from a U.S. base where med­i­cal per­son­nel are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for mis­di­ag­nos­ing post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD).

The Army is in­ves­ti­gat­ing claims that psy­chi­a­trists at the Madi­gan Med­i­cal Cen­ter on the Joint Base Lewis-mcchord mil­i­tary base near Ta­coma, Wash., failed to di­ag­nose PTSD in hun­dreds of sol­diers.

About 1,500 cases have been re­viewed, and 285 of the sol­diers will be of­fered re-eval­u­a­tions, ac­cord­ing to the Western Re­gional Med­i­cal Com­mand, which runs Madi­gan — the largest mil­i­tary hospi­tal on the West Coast.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched af­ter a se­nior psy­chi­a­trist at Madi­gan urged sub­or­di­nates not to “rub­ber­stamp” sol­diers’ PTSD claims and to be “good stew­ards” of tax­payer dol­lars when as­sess­ing them.

The 38-year-old Army staff sergeant in cus­tody and be­ing in­ves­ti­gated in the week­end shoot­ing ram­page, which left 16 Afghan civil­ians dead, was sta­tioned at Lewis-mcChord be­fore his re­cent de­ploy­ment to Afghanistan, mil­i­tary of­fi­cials have said. Au­thor­i­ties have not yet re­leased his name.

Of­fi­cials de­clined to say whether the sergeant had un­der­gone any eval­u­a­tion by the unit un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. They also have not com­mented on any pos­si­ble mo­ti­va­tion for the shoot­ings.

“We don’t know what his mo­ti­va­tion was. We are look­ing into that,” said Pen­tagon spokesman John Kirby.

ABC News re­ported Mon­day that the sergeant had suf­fered from trau­matic brain in­jury, a form of head in­jury that can cause be­hav­ioral or psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lems and is of­ten linked PTSD. Cit­ing uniden­ti­fied mil­i­tary of­fi­cials, the re­port said he had been eval­u­ated by a spe­cial trau­matic brain in­jury unit at Lewis-mcchord and deemed fit for ser­vice.

“We don’t com­ment on in­di­vid­ual sol­diers’ med­i­cal con­di­tions,” Army Sur­geon Gen­eral spokes­woman Maria Tolle­son said.

Army pol­icy re­quires ev­ery sol­dier re­turn­ing from a de­ploy­ment, as the sus­pect did last year, to un­dergo a rou­tine health as­sess­ment to screen for psy­cho­log­i­cal or be­hav­ioral prob­lems, such as de­pres­sion, sleep­less­ness, or drug or al­co­hol abuse.

The Post-de­ploy­ment Health Re­assess­ment, as the rou­tine screen­ing is called, was not con­ducted by the per­son­nel un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion at Madi­gan, said Sharon Ayala, a spokes­woman for the Western Re­gional Med­i­cal Com­mand.

She de­scribed the screen­ing as a “sep­a­rate process that is con­ducted at a sep­a­rate lo­ca­tion, and is not con­nected to the Med­i­cal Eval­u­a­tion Board process that’s in place at Madi­gan.”

The in­ves­ti­ga­tions at Madi­gan have raised enough ques­tions about PTSD di­ag­noses by the U.S. mil­i­tary that De­fense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panetta last month or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The Army in­spec­tor-gen­eral will ex­am­ine di­ag­nos­tic pro­ce­dures to en­sure that ev­ery­one is us­ing the same stan­dards to de­tect PTSD, Mr. Panetta told House ap­pro­pri­a­tors last month.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Army is in­ves­ti­gat­ing claims that psy­chi­a­trists at the Madi­gan Med­i­cal Cen­ter at Joint Base Lewis-mcchord mil­i­tary base near Ta­coma, Wash., failed to di­ag­nose post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der in hun­dreds of troops. About 1,500 cases have been re­viewed, and 285 of the troops will be of­fered re-eval­u­a­tions.

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