Medical aid in the snow — does it matter which war?
The Army has removed the head of the Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington state during an investigation into whether soldiers had diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder reversed to reduce medical costs.
“This is a common practice during ongoing investigations and nothing more,” Maj. Gen. Phillip Volpe, who heads the Western Region Medical Command, said Monday about the removal of Col. Dallas Homas.
Homas is a West Point graduate whose career has included deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, where he served as command surgeon. His military honors include two Bronze Stars…
The focus of the Army Medical Command investigation is a Madigan forensic psychiatric team that has the lead role in screening soldiers being considered for medical retirement due to PTSD, a condition that results from experiencing or seeing a traumatic event, such as a battlefield casualty.
Symptoms can include recurrent nightmares, flashbacks, irritability and feeling distant from other people. Soldiers diagnosed with PTSD gain at least a 50 percent rating of disability, and qualify for pensions, family health insurance and other financial benefits.
In 2011, an ombudsman investigated complaints from soldiers who said the forensic psychiatric team had reversed earlier diagnoses of PTSD and tagged some of them as possible malingerers.
The ombudsman also wrote a memo about a lecture in which a member of the forensic psychiatric team talked about the need to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and not rubber stamp PTSD diagnoses that could result in a soldier earning $1.5 million in benefits over a lifetime…
I didn’t know there was a specific field of psychiatric study dedicated to oversight by beancounters.
The ombudsman investigation resulted in more than a dozen soldiers getting a chance for a second PTSD screening by doctors from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, D.C.
Fourteen of those soldiers will have the results of their Walter Reed reviews detailed in individual meetings at Madigan with Col. Rebecca Porter, chief of behavioral health, Office of the U.S. Army Surgeon General.
One would hope the analysis reverts to psychiatric concerns rather than saving the budget.
I’ve mentioned my closest friend being the most decorated WW2 veteran from our home state and the months he spent in hospital after the war. That helped his physical wounds. There wasn’t any broad definition of PTSD available for those vets. So, he received nothing – either for what he suffered in battle – or what he saw and felt at the liberation of Hitler’s Death Camps.
But, I shall never forget the times he woke in the middle of the night and rolled under his bed because he thought there was incoming artillery fire – and that he was back in Bastogne in the winter of 1944-45.