Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Is The Army Deliberately Avoiding Helping Returning Troops?
Yesterday we explored the unusually high incidence of suicides among U.S. Army recruiters, the bulk of whom have already served in theaters of war and who are under pressure to meet inductee quotas.
Now, Salon.com is reporting that, in at least one case, an Army psychologist is claiming he's under extreme pressure to not diagnosis and treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The revelation comes in what is presented as a surreptitiously recorded interview between an Army sergeant and a Fort Carson psychologist who he had gone to see after his return from Iraq. The sergeant says he suffers from the classic symptoms of PTSD, but that he's been diagnosed with having an anxiety disorder instead.
During the session, the psychologist, the recording reveals, told the sergeant something in confidence. That he was pressured by his superiors to misdiagnose PTSD.
This is bad enough if it's an isolated incident. The implications are far more ominous, however, if the downplaying of the syndrome among troops returning from Iraq, where the sergeant served, and Afghanistan, is more widespread.
Some veterans organizations have long suspected that the Army has been understating the numbers of returning combat troops who are suffering from PTSD. The claim reported by Salon deserves further investigation.
And there should be assurances that if this allegation is credible, it will not begin and end with this incident. But that we get a full understanding of how the Army is approaching the problems of psychological trauma exhibited by so many of our returning veterans.
The intent should not be to find a scapegoat. It should be to ensure that all combat troops get properly evaluated and receive, if necessary, through treatment of their psychological wounds.
After sending them into harm's way on behalf of us, the least this nation owes them is that.
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