Senators want Army mental health inquiry

Dec. 8, 2006 at 8:12 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Three U.S. senators Thursday called for in investigation into mental health services for Army soldiers suffering from PTSD.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., asked for an investigation into "troubling allegations" that soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo., are being denied treatment for post-traumatic stress disorders, according to a report by National Public Radio.

NPR reported that two sergeants admitted they "often refuse to allow soldiers under their command to attend mental health treatment sessions for PTSD. They said people claim PTSD from combat deployments as a means of avoiding being sent back to Iraq, or of getting out of the military.

"It is tremendously problematic that Ft. Carson officials take it upon themselves to make medical determinations without input from mental health professionals," the senators said in a Dec. 7 letter to the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, Dr. William Winkenwerder.

Specifically, they want to know the average time in days soldiers at Fort Carson have to wait after requesting their first appointment with a mental health care professional, and then for follow up appointments; how many soldiers have sought treatment; how many have been diagnosed with PTSD or traumatic brain injury, and how many of those have been discharged.

Traumatic brain injury is a relatively new class of injury in which the brain is injured by concussion from eplosions without visible wounds. TBI can result in depression and other mental health problems.

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