(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, released the following statement after the Army announced that they will begin a comprehensive, Army-wide review of soldier behavioral health diagnoses and evaluations since 2001. This major announcement comes after Senator Murray spurred an investigation into inconsistencies in diagnoses at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in her home state of Washington. The Army has since returned PTSD diagnoses to over 100 servicemembers that sought treatment there. Murray has repeatedly pushed Army leadership to investigate whether problems similar to those at Madigan were being seen at Army bases across the country.
“The Army clearly realizes they have a nationwide, systematic problem on their hands. I credit them with taking action, but it will be essential that this vast and truly historic review is done the right way. That means continued engagement from Army leadership at the highest levels, prompt attention to the problems of servicemembers identified during the review, and not only the identification of problems but quick action to implement and enforce solutions.
“This comprehensive review is born out of a review I helped initiate in my home state that has already returned PTSD diagnoses to over 100 servicemembers since the beginning of this year. That review has been successful because the Army identified and reached out to affected servicemembers and veterans, conducted reevaluations using the appropriate tools and best practices, and was made a priority by top military leaders. This nationwide review must be given the same attention from leadership in order to succeed.
“But the bottom line is that the Army needs to fix the inconsistencies we have seen in diagnosing the invisible wounds of war. Out of this review, the Army needs to provide a uniform mental health policy so that servicemembers are given the care they need.
“This is an issue that affects every aspect of the lives of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Without proper mental health treatment we will continue see servicemembers struggle to readjust to family life, continue to self-medicate, and in far too many cases, take their own lives.
“Servicemembers, veterans, and their families should never have to wade through an unending bureaucratic process to get proper access to care. The Army has an extraordinary opportunity to go back, correct the mistakes of the past, and ensure that they are not repeated.”