Hotline available for soldiers, veterans over PTSD evaluations

Seattle Times, by Hal Bernton: The Army Medical Command has a hotline available for soldiers and veterans who have been screened by forensic psychiatric teams since 2007 as part of the evaluation process for medical retirement. Soldiers and veterans with concerns about their diagnosis may call 800-984-8523. The forensic psychiatric team at Madigan is under investigation into whether it properly evaluated soldiers previously treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).The Madigan team concluded a dozen of these soldiers did not have PTSD, which would have qualified them for medical retirement benefits.But a re-evaluation by a Walter Reed National Military Medical Center team concluded half of those soldiers did have PTSD. Madigan has been the only Army medical center to rely so heavily on the forensic teams to screen patients for possible medical retirement, according to the Army Medical Command. Last month, the head of the Madigan forensic team was removed from clinical duties until the completion of the investigation about its diagnostic practices. The Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, also has suspended the use of forensic evaluations during the conduct of medical evaluation boards, according to a statement from the Army Medical Command. The statement said forensic evaluations are frequently used in civil and legal proceedings, as well as for certain fitness-for-duty determinations. “While confidence remains in the practice,” the statement said use of the forensic evaluation as part of the medical evaluations board introduces “variance” into the process.

Dear Friends and Clients,

In furtherance of our firm’s culture of commitment to always act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligations while prioritizing health, wellness and safety of all we can.

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes to many lives and businesses in our communities, and around the world. We, much like our neighbors and friends, have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also prioritizing the health, wellness and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, many from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for our lives, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Andrew G. Finkelstein and the staff of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP