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Fri., Feb. 27
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Army review

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Army Secretary John M. McHugh has ordered an extensive review of mental health compensation for both current and former soldiers dating back to 2001.

Some 190,000 medical files are being examined in a very short time — less than 90 days, USA Today reported.

The review stems from concerns that thousands of soldiers may have been denied retirement compensation for mental health problems.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious issue. Soldiers who suffer from it should be treated, and compensated properly.

Yet PTSD diagnoses of soldiers seeking medical retirements were downgraded at Madigan Army Medical Center, near Tacoma, Wash., sparking the review. Changing the diagnosis to a lesser illness can result in reduced pension payments to a soldier or veteran.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., has pressed the government for a broad inquiry. More than 200 medical personnel across 31 Army hospitals are checking to see if mental health diagnoses were altered and whether compensation is due.

Maj. Gen. Richard Thomas, head of the Army’s Western Regional Medical Command, said the review was “going to be hard, but let’s satisfy these soldiers.”

The intent is to ensure that what happened at the Madigan facility is not occurring elsewhere in the Army, noted Maj. Gen. Richard Stone, Army deputy surgeon general, who said: “The secretary’s opinion was if there’s any possibility that we’ve left a service member disadvantaged, we must reach out to them. And he wanted absolute assurance that we’ve left no one behind.”

The review involves about 160,000 soldiers. Secretary McHugh is correct in having the Army take a second look at the cases to ensure that they were handled properly.

America owes much to its service personnel and veterans. We must make sure that they receive the medical care they need and the compensation due them.

If mistakes were made or cases were mishandled, the review will offer a chance to make it right with individual soldiers and veterans.

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