An Army inspector general has ended a two-month investigation into mental health services in Europe and has concluded that soldiers needing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder have the same access to programs regardless of whether they are returning to duty or leaving the service.
The Europe Regional Medical Command’s Inspector General issued a statement April 24 saying an investigation into alleged disparities in treatment opportunities at 17 command facilities showed no differences between regimens offered to soldiers separating from the Army or staying in.
In fact, the IG concluded, in some cases, access to care was better for soldiers transitioning out, including those in Warrior Transition Units.
ERMC commander Brig. Gen. Nadja West ordered the review after at least one person complained that some soldiers with PTSD were offered an eight-week outpatient treatment, the Evolution Program, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center while others were not.
The program’s curriculum is designed to help soldiers deal with follow-on exposure to combat stress, according to a Landstuhl release.
But the IG found no disparities in program access.
“While it is designed primarily for those remaining on active duty, soldiers early in the process of transitioning out of the Army for medical reasons have also been accepted to the program,” the IG found.
West said the Evolution Program requires soldiers to attend numerous sessions in eight weeks and often conflicts with medical evaluation and discharge appointments.
Thus, the Army requires transitioning soldiers to put their medical separation process on hold while they are enrolled in the program.
“Taking care of our soldiers is our top priority,” West said.
The review at the European medical facilities came after an Army investigation into the diagnoses and review of PTSD cases at Madigan Army Medical Center, Wash.
At Madigan, a team of physicians, known as forensic psychiatrists, reviewed medical records of those diagnosed with PTSD and overturned at least 14 cases. Further review of these cases at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center determined that the forensic team was wrong on at least a half-dozen of those cases.
The investigation also showed that the cases of at least 300 soldiers seen at Madigan are eligible for further review.
Landstuhl’s behavioral health clinics saw 4,173 active-duty patients from all service branches and 1,284 family members in 2011, not counting those seeking assistance for substance abuse.
In 2011, 1,049 service members were evacuated to Landstuhl from combat theaters for a primary psychiatric diagnosis; in 2010, 1,326 troops were evacuated for a primary psychiatric diagnosis; and in 2009, the figure was 1,263.