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.