Army medical chief placed on leave amid investigations into PTSD diagnoses

The head of Madigan Army Medical Center has been removed from command while the Western Region Medical Command concludes its investigation into a psychiatry team that adjusted diagnoses of certain soldiers who were seeking medical retirements.

Col. Dallas Homas’ leave was announced Monday evening by Maj. Gen. Phillip Volpe, who leads the Western Region Medical Command. Col. Mike Heimall, commander of Irwin Army Community Hospital, Fort Riley, Kan., is taking Homas’ place as interim commander.

Meanwhile, the Army Surgeon General this week is contacting the families of 14 soldiers whose diagnoses for post-traumatic stress disorder were adjusted by the Madigan forensic psychiatry team in such a way that the former soldiers did not receive full disability pensions. The soldiers’ cases were reviewed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center over the past few weeks.

Last fall, memos show that members of the forensic psychiatry team urged behavioral health professionals to consider the long-term costs of a PTSD diagnosis on taxpayers. One memo said a PTSD diagnosis for a veteran could cost up to $1.5 million over time. Those documents have lawmakers asking whether the psychiatrists changed diagnoses to reduce expenses.

“This is an investigation that has only just begun,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Monday night in a written statement. “The most important thing is that these service members and their families are provided with answers on why cost was a factor in the treatment they sought for the invisible wounds of war, and that the Army takes the right steps to fix it.”

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