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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/8/09

Fort Hood's Killer Shrink: Was He One of the Army Docs Pressured to Misdiagnose PTSD in Soldiers?

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Reprinted from The Smart Asset

The Fort Hood killer psychiatrist's case of pre-traumatic stress disorder couldn't be more clear.

Especially if it's true that Major Nidal Malik Hasan defended suicide bombing in an Internet post as a heroic, even life-saving, measure.

Perhaps we'll learn as details unfold that Hasan himself a suicide killer was one of the Army's psychiatrists and psychologists who were pressured during the first five years of the Iraq War to not diagnose screwed-up soldiers as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Instead, the Army's doctors were diagnosing soldiers as supposedly having "personality disorder," a pre-existing condition for which they wouldn't qualify for treatment. The military had a financial motive keep healthcare costs down in addition to the motive of covering up the huge PTSD problems of returning soldiers.

Who knows Hasan's motives at this point? (The WashPost has some good tidbits on his being a shrink assigned to study soldiers' trauma.) But perhaps his horribly twisted thinking was exacerbated by his legitimate frustration that Army docs like him were pressured for years to screw the screwed-up soldiers sent to them for diagnoses and treatment.

It's for sure that Hasan, like every other mental-health practitioner in the military, knew about that scandalous situation. Since 2007 or so, it has been laid out well in many mainstream outlets.

From Salon's "The Army's fatal neglect" this past April:

A secret recording reveals the Army may be pushing its medical staff not to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder. The Army and Senate have ignored the implications.

After denying through the first five years of the Iraq War that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicides were a growing problem among U.S. troops, the U.S. Army has owned up to it, to an extent.

In the past couple of years, the Army has released several videos aimed at suicide prevention. Above is one of them.

 

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Ward Harkavy is currently Senior Editor at the Village Voice, for which he writes The Smart Asset.
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