14 JBLM soldiers receive new PTSD diagnoses

SEATTLE -- Allegations that military brass improperly downgraded the diagnoses of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder forced the {A href=""}ouster of a top Army commander, and now the soldiers are getting a new chance.

The US Army Medical Command and the Western Regional Medical Command are investigating questions about whether bureaucratic red tape and a possible effort to save taxpayer money have have kept veterans from getting the correct diagnoses.

Until those questions are resolved, Col. Dallas Homas has been administratively removed from his post as commander of the Madigan Healthcare System.

Army Spec. Jared Enger served two tours of duty in Iraq. It was during the second tour that he began to have nightmares about the things he'd seen.

"Images (would) pop up of dead bodies," Enger said. "We would find a lot of people that were tortured and executed, and so you'd find a lot of mutilated, dead bodies."

He told Army doctors, who diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder. That was until last year, when a doctor he had never met reversed that call and downgraded the diagnosis.

Engers is now one of 14 cases at the center of an investigation into whether soldiers had diagnoses of PTSD reversed to save the military money.

The case has outraged leaders, including Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who met Wednesday with one of those soldiers.

"When we send someone to fight for us we tell them we will care for you when you come home," Murray said.

Officials from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center decided to take a second look at the 14 soldiers, and in the past several days the soldiers were notified of the results.

Six of the soldiers, including Enger, had their original PTSD diagnoses reconfirmed.

"Now hopefully things will start moving a little more rapidly so I can move toward the next chapter in life," he said.

The original PTSD diagnoses for six other soldiers were re-diagnosed as behavioral conditions other than PTSD. Two other soldiers who were never diagnosed with PTSD were also found to have behavior health conditions, according to officials from the Western Regional Medical Command.
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