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Senator Murray Holds Field Hearing On Veteran Care

Patricia Murphy
04/05/2012

US Senator Patty Murray held a field hearing in Tacoma Wednesday. She was listening to vets regarding the challenges they're facing getting mental health care and jobs.

TRANSCRIPT

The hearing follows the recent scandal around the misdiagnosis of post–traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in returning soldiers. Dozens of PTSD diagnoses were overturned at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis–McChord.

Olympia veteran Sara Lillegard was an intelligence analyst with the 5th Stryker Brigade. She says her tour of duty in Afghanistan was exceptionally violent. Many of her fellow soldiers died. When she returned, Lillegard was diagnosed with PTSD, but eventually refused care.

Lillegard: "It was very painfully clear to me that the only thing that my unit and the vast majority of medical people that I spoke to cared about was not getting blamed for some sort of outburst on my part. Which was yet another incentive to not talk to anyone about how I was feeling truthfully."

Lillegard says she believes, as did others in her unit, that having a paper trail of mental or behavioral health problems would harm her career.

Army medical staff and veterans health officials also testified at the hearing. They say they're working to address issues around diagnosis, treatment and access to care.

Last week Murray began an investigation into whether military hospitals across the country are denying treatment to service members with post–traumatic stress disorder because of cost considerations.

I'm Patricia Murphy reporting.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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