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Old 01-01-2007, 04:58 PM
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PTSD VETS can be redeployed

From the Stars and Stripes

By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Friday, December 22, 2006

WASHINGTON — Troops with bipolar and psychotic disorders cannot deploy into Iraq or Afghanistan but those recovering from traumatic stress disorders still can, under new defense guidelines released this week.

Defense health officials said the new guidance is designed to clarify existing policy, not to replace any current practices dealing with deploying servicemembers with mental health issues.

“What we found was that [health officials] had some questions about exactly what the regulations were,” said Terry Jones, spokesman for Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. “These are much more specific guidelines to help them evaluate troops.”

The new policy guidance states that any condition that “limits the physical or psychological ability of a servicemember” must be evaluated before troops are sent downrange, since it could hurt both them and the mission.

It specifically states that troops with psychotic or bipolar disorders, and those taking anti-psychotic or anti-convulsant drugs, should not be deployed. Troops who suffer from any mental disorder for more than a year should also be considered “unsuitable” for military duty.

But servicemembers with “a psychiatric disorder in remission, or whose residual symptoms do not impair duty performance” may be considered for duty downrange. It lists post-traumatic stress disorder as a “treatable” problem.

That decision is left to mental health professionals, under the guidelines. If troops do not improve after three months of therapy and medication, the guidance prohibits their deployment.

Jones said officials do not expect the new guidelines to significantly change the practices of mental health evaluators or the numbers of troops being deployed.

Earlier this month, Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Kit Bond, R-Mo., sent a letter to Winkenwerder blasting reports that soldiers stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., were discouraged from seeking treatment for PTSD.

The senators asked the Pentagon to investigate whether mental health officials were denied access to soldiers or pressured into approving their deployment. They also noted the stigma still associated with PTSD “must be changed if we hope to ensure the mental health of our country’s brave servicemembers.”

Defense officials are still investigating the Fort Carson case.

In a statement, Winkenwerder said the new guidelines will help military doctors “make the best possible decisions regarding the deployment of service members,” noting that the document was co-authored by a number of mental health officials.
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Old 01-16-2007, 06:00 AM
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Re: PTSD VETS can be redeployed

I believe that one of the growing issue of commanders 'pressuring' doctors to make their soldiers deployable is one of the largest problems in this issue. When I got out on a medical discharge for PTSD in 2004 things were still new, as we were from the first big group to come home since the start of the war. But before we left for Iraq, there were several issues that I can remember where the Battalion level commander attempted to pressure the doctors to make their soldiers deployable. These men were legitimately disabled awaiting the MMRB findings for their discharge, and the commander actually got 1 of these soldiers off profile and into the plane with us. The belief, in my opinion, is that soldiers with problems must be faking the ailments to get out of something. At least the majority leadership from Fort Sill, OK that I came in contact with over 8 years appeared to have this attitude. I pray that this will change very soon. There needs to be a mind-set change in the upper leadership and they need to realize that soldiers are not children... they are grown men and sometimes when they say something is wrong, perhaps something IS ACTUALLY wrong. One of the many things to pray for our soldiers about.
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