Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: Madigan Army Medical Center

Feb.
12th

Army shouldn’t close ranks around Madigan inquiry

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

It’s hard to beat the U.S. Army when it comes to giving the bureaucratic run-around.

The Army has been blocking News Tribune staffers who have tried to ferret out information about problems at Madigan Army Medical Center, where soldiers apparently had been misdiagnosed during medical disability reviews for combat-related conditions. Even Freedom of Information Act requests have gotten little traction, with the requests lagging for months before being rejected for one reason or another, or being answered incompletely.

Most recently, military reporter Adam Ashton sought information about findings made by the Army Behavioral Task Force, which conducted an Army-wide investigation after the reports of problems at Madigan. At a press conference last week, Army Secretary John McHugh announced that the task force generated 24 findings and 47 recommendations, but he couldn’t share any of them. That might happen at some future, unspecified date.

That’s not good enough. Read more »

Dec.
27th

Norm Dicks: Embodiment of a better Congress


Congressman Norm Dicks

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

To understand what Washington will lose when Norm Dicks leaves Congress five days from now, you have to meet the man.

He comes across as a latter-day Teddy Roosevelt: beefy and bombastic; exuberant, gregarious and dominating; funny, friendly and full of stories. Though he talks nonstop, he’s no bore: The ideas just come too fast.

After about 10 minutes, you realize Dicks is not merely a consummate politician, but also a man of rare intelligence and insatiable curiosity. Once he’s on one of his favorite subjects – stealth aircraft, for example, or Puget Sound cleanup – you start to wonder if anyone else knows as much as this guy.

At 72, he still looks and talks like an irrepressible ex-Husky linebacker, which he is. On the issues he follows, he’s also a formidable intellectual with a dazzling grasp of technical detail and broad context.

Many of the tributes now being paid to Dicks amount to inventories of the projects and funding he brought home to Washington and the 6th Congressional District during his 36 years in office.

None of those lists is complete, though, because he’s done so much. Here is a sampling: Read more »

June
16th

Pentagon must overcome bureaucracy on PTSD diagnoses

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

It’s welcome news that the Department of Defense is expanding its review of post-traumatic stress syndrome diagnoses. That review will now date back to the 2002 start of the war in Afghanistan and include all branches of the military, not just the Army.

If recent reversals of many diagnoses made at Madigan Army Medical Center are any indications, too many veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been wrongly told that they do not suffer from the disorder, affecting their ability to get treatment and receive disability benefits.

According to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray – who has been a pit bull on the subject of veterans’ mental health care – many soldiers whose diagnoses have been reversed said they were told “they were exaggerating their symptoms, lying and accused of shirking their duties.”
Read more »

Feb.
27th

Did Madigan’s PTSD team break faith with soldiers?

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The United States has a history of losing interest in its combat veterans after they’ve lost their military usefulness. Shame on all of us if that has happened at Madigan Army Medical Center.

The Army has been investigating the practices of a psychiatric team charged with confirming diagnoses of service-related post-traumatic stress disorder among soldiers. The question is whether doctors were dispassionately looking at symptoms or trying to save the Pentagon money by minimizing disability claims.

Someone deserves credit for taking this seriously. Both the commander of Madigan and the leader of the PTSD review team have been temporarily relieved of command. Twelve soldiers who had their PTSD diagnoses reversed at Madigan have since been re-examined by Walter Reed, where doctors concluded that six of them indeed suffered from the disorder.

That 50 percent error rate looks bad, to say the least. The Army is now seeking to review the cases of all soldiers who had their PTSD diagnoses thrown out at Madigan in the last four years.

For combat veterans, the stakes are big. A severe case of PTSD is a crippling condition; the diagnosis can lead to medical retirement, an immediate pension and a lifetime of medical care.
Read more »

April
27th

Army should give details on changes at Madigan

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The way Madigan Army Medical Center treated Oregon’s 41st National Guard Brigade last year was unacceptable, the Army admits, and changes have been made to address the problem.

It just won’t say what those changes are. According to the Army, that information – as well as details about the investigation – are classified.

Talk about unacceptable.

It’s understandable that privacy issues might be involved, but that can be handled by redacting names. Government entities do that all the time. Another reason the Army gives for keeping the information secret is that it pertains to quality assurance – which sounds like an awfully broad and convenient classification.
Read more »