Pentagon Chief Orders Review of Mental Diagnoses
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday 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 on Wednesday, 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.