Are Army Doctors fudging PTSD diagnoses?

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Make no mistake, the military brass recognize that many veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”).  In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 5 veterans suffers from PTSD.

As such, it is difficult to reconcile a recent news report that US Army Doctors are trying to hold down the number of military service members that are diagnosed with “the Army’s top medical officer this week rejected assertions that commanders are discouraging doctors at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., from diagnosing soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho in remarks to lawmakers in the House subcommittee on defense appropriations stated that “the Army is not putting pressure on any of our clinicians.”  According to the news release, Lt. Gen. Horobo had launched a review into “discrepencies between initial PTSD diagnoses at Madigan and later conclusions reached by a forensic psychiatry team at the hospital.”

“Officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are reviewing the cases of 14 soldiers who passed through Madigan with PTSD diagnoses only to have those results changed by the forensic team in such a way that the soldiers would receive less generous disability benefits in retirement. The review was first reported by The Seattle Times.”

Indeed, there are several investigation underway to determine if there is undue pressure on physicians to question PTSD diagnoses since it could lead to costly benefits.  SFTT trusts that these investigations will prove these allegations false.  PTSD is often difficult to diagnose, but our brave warriors an objective and comprehensive diagnosis and continuing treatment to deal with this  problem which is now reaching epidemic proportions.


SFTT Editor Roger Charles Live on Radio

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We are thrilled to announce that  Geoff “Jeff” Metcalf will conduct a LIVE RADIO INTERVIEW with Col. Roger Charles, editor Stand For The Troops, Wed. Jan 4th at 8PM PST (11 PM EST) Topic: Procurement Scandal over Shoddy Dept. of Defense Approved body armor.    SFTT readers are encouraged to call in and listen to the interview by calling in on the following numbers:

703-836-0384 (land line, VOIP) and (cell)

703-980-7551 plus 2d land line (VOIP) 703-836-6736.

Roger Charles, Vice Chair / Secretary of Stand For The Troops

A career Marine Corps officer from 1967 to 1990, Roger Charles has enjoyed a second career as an award-winning investigative journalist. He was a member in 2004 of the 60 Minutes II production team that earned a Peabody Award for the segment “Abuse at Abu Ghraib.”

Among his other journalistic achievements: Charles was awarded a Medal for Excellence in Investigative Reporting by journalism’s Investigative Reporters and Editors (I.R.E.) association for his 1992 Newsweek cover story, “Sea of Lies,” and was an Emmy finalist for best investigative piece for the Nightlight Special “The USS Vincennes: Public War, Secret War” in 1992.

For television, Charles has served as a consulting investigative reporter and contributor to segment development for 20/20 (a special project on the Oklahoma City bombing), ABC World News Tonight, Nightline, Frontline, Prime Time Live, BBC News, and CNN, among others.

Charles has served as an advisor on numerous stories for various print and electronic media outlets including: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and The New Yorker. He has been published in Newsweek, Insight, The Washington Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune, Soldier of Fortune, Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute, and the Marine Corps Gazette, where he served as editorial board member from 1987-1989. In 1996, Charles broke the story of the fraudulent use of combat insignia by Admiral Jeremy Michael Boorda, Chief of Naval Operations.

“I saw while I was on active duty that many of the national media that cover security and defense issues are truly ill-informed about basic things they need to perform their job properly,” says Charles of his shift to a civilian role as an investigative journalist specializing in a range of national security issues. “This just destroys any kind of credibility this reporting has for any military audience.”

In 1998, Soldiers For The Truth Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan, apolitical, educational foundation whose purpose is meaningful reform of the U.S. defense establishment, was formed, with Charles serving as the editor-in-chief of its newsletter, Voice of the Grunt. Charles remained active on the non-profit’s Board of Trustees until December 2004, when an ailing Hackworth asked him to assume the foundation presidency and Charles now fills the role of Vice Chair, “The foundation was created around three issues: leadership, training, and equipment,” says Charles. “Think of a stool with three legs. Remove any one of those legs and the stool falls apart.”





Dr. Henry Grayson on PTSD

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Over a week ago, I attended a fascinating lecture and discussion with Dr. Henry Grayson, Chairman of SFTT’s Medical Task Force, on the exploration of new treatments for veterans suffering from PTSD.  The meeting was hosted at the headquarters of the Organization for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) in midtown NYC.

The meeting was designed to explore some of the new methods to treat veterans with PTSD. Together with the physicians and clinical psychologists and the management of women who urgently require care to help protect themselves and loved ones from the terrible consequences of PTSD.   Thanks to the generous support of Warriors Salute, we now have 6 veterans in their program and, we are thrilled to report that Sgt. Brad Eifert will be graduating this month to resume what we hope will be a productive and meaningful life.

This tragic illness is now reaching epidemic proportions and many service members are finding it difficult to find the quality help they need and deserve.  SFTT has gathered together an eminent group of concerned and highly qualified medical physicians to explore what can be done to help veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq reclaim their life.  The purpose of Dr. Grayson’s meeting with the staff of Warriors Salute was to explore new treatment modalities which have proved successful in treating stress disorders.

As a layman, it would be presumptuous of me to opine with any degree of authority on these “new” treatments, but Dr. Grayson seems open to most any method as long as it produces no harmful side-effects.  While it would be impossible to summarize the nine hour of training, Dr. Grayson uses muscle testing to detect trauma since our body and mind might be considered “one unified field.”   He then uses the information gathered from this “testing” to help clear the neuro pathways by eliminating the thought that produces the tension.  Found below is a video of Dr. Grayson’s muscle testing technique:

Once these negative thoughts have been “cleared” then new positive thought can be introduced by stimulating pressure points and the mind to react differently to stimuli.

As Dr. Grayson would be sure to point out, there is no one treatment to address the complex traumas associated with PTSD. The use of muscle testing or applied kinesiology is a non-evasive way to help diagnose and treat stress-related disorders. We believe that Warriors Salute will introduce this new treatment modality into their overall curriculum and extend the number of treatment options available to our brave warriors.

SFTT would like to thank Dr. Grayson and the management and staff of Warrior Salute and IATA for their work in helping service members regain their lives. We are all the better for it.

Richard W. May



Siga Shares Soar on Townsend Talkie

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CNN Reporter Drew Griffin got it right:  The $435 million no-bid contract to Siga reported earlier by SFTT this week is a sham and yet another example of the blatant corruption in government and the cozy relationship that exists between political fund-raisers and career procurement officers in government.   Nevertheless, director and mouth-piece for Siga, Fran Townsend was able to do a convincing cover-up in a CNN interview with an obviously uncomfortable Anderson Cooper and a frustrated Drew Griffin, who had the good sense to not lose his cool.  In fact, Fran Townsend may actually believe what she is saying, which is even scarier.

As a result, Siga shares soared the next day as market-mover Fran Townsend proves once again that dishonesty and hypocrisy is SOP for beltway insiders and nobody can do a damn thing!

This is good news for the folks in our military procurement process who use many of the same tools as Siga to re-write test procedures, get more friendly testers and simply pretend to have a competitive bidding process when everyone knows the system is rigged from the get-go.    I don’t know who is buying Siga Shares, but it is probably the same people who sold Siga shares  short when CNN first announced it was releasing the story.  Nice trade!

When young men and women are dying on the field of battle, it is a shame that we reward their heroism with former public servants who gorge themselves at the expense of  hard-working folks who expect more of their leaders.


Siga Technologies and Military Procurement

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SFTT has been reporting for years on the distasteful – read, rampant corruption – in our military procurement process.  We are not finger-pointers, we simply comment on the many government auditing studies that clearly indicate that our military procurement process is out of control and, yes, corrupt from top to bottom.

Does this mean our military leadership is corrupt?  Of course not, but then who is accountable when corrupt and inept military officers and civilians in the chain of command continually abuse the responsibility of their offices?  At some point in time, real leaders take charge and clean out the cancer that is undermining the integrity of our military and civilian leadership.

Today, I witnessed yet another example of the and now on the board of Siga which also features many Democratic fundraisers, sees nothing wrong with hiring political hired guns to seek government contracts.  She sites the number of 4-star generals who interact with career  procurement officials as evidence that this is a good thing.  Really!

How much longer do we have to put up with the fraud and corruption?  How much longer do we have to tolerate the mouthpieces of dishonesty who don’t understand the harm they are causing to our country?  I’m sorry Ms. Townsend, you are on a fool ‘s mission to convince the American public otherwise and, if you honestly believe what you are saying,  we should call for the guys  in the white coats.  Do the right thing and come clean.  It is to late to resign “for personal reasons.”  You’ve lied to yourself and you have lied to the American people.




Remains of War Heroes Dumped in Virginia LandFill

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According to an article published in the Washington Post by correspondents incinerated partial remains of at least 274 American troops in a Virginia landfill, far more than the military had acknowledged, before halting the secretive practice three years ago.  The landfill dumping was concealed from families who had authorized the military to dispose of the remains in a dignified and respectful manner, Air Force officials said. There are no plans, they said, to alert those families now.”

SFTT hardly knows what to say other than to express our profound sorrow and regrets to family and friends of these deceased war heroes who did not get the burial that they deserved.  Tragic.


Military Procurement and Counterfeit Parts

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In yet another glaring example of seeing the trees rather than the forest, US Senators are now patting themselves on the back for proposing new legislation that would theoretically make it more difficult for military contractors to use counterfeit parts in combat equipment and protective gear supplied to our military forces.   According to news reports, the Senate  cleared yet another hurdle to pass its version of the National Defense Authorization Act.  In a key amendment to the Act, contractors would be required to buy parts whenever possible from a list of DOD-designated trusted suppliers, or from original manufacturers and their authorized dealers. DOD would also have a list of “untrusted suppliers.”

The new legislation stems from a recent Senate investigation regarding the use of counterfeit parts, many originating in China, in military weapons systems and other goods.   As I understand the spirit of the new amendment, military contractors may no longer use counterfeit parts to meet contractual commitments to equip our military.

Excuse me, but shouldn’t our taxpayers and, more importantly, our military in harm’s way expect (read demand) protective gear and combat equipment that is sourced from authorized sources?   This new legislation – with about as much teeth as Grandma without her dentures – exposes what is tragically wrong with our military procurement system:  It’ is corrupt from top to bottom and neither our military or Congressional leaders are taking any steps to correct it.

While the Chinese will no doubt counterfeit most anything for a yuan, one would have expected our military contractors to behave ethically.  Those who have followed SFTT know otherwise.  The stench of corruption is pervasive throughout the military procurement process. Our military procurement  system is littered with IG reports documenting the failings of our procurement process and equipment testing, but the military officers and their civilian counterparts continue in-place awarding contracts to firms in receivership and firms whose principals are in jail for securities and tax fraud violations.  Please!

If our Senate would really like to send a message to military contractors and their facilitators in the military, they would insist on reprimands and exempt corrupt companies from new contracts that potentially expose our military forces and, indeed, our Nation to great harm.

SFTT’s message to Congress and our military brass:  Clear up the corruption in our own backyard before taking on the Chinese.



Dr. Henry Grayson on Neuro Pathways: A Treatment for PTSD?

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As indicated earlier, SFTT is thrilled to have Dr. Henry Grayson as Chairman of SFTT’s Medical Task Force to help develop effective programs to treat our brave men and women suffering from PTSD. PTSD for veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is now reaching epidemic proportions. Government studies suggest that 1 in 5 veterans suffers from PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD manifest themselves differently from person to person – but make no mistake – PTSD is a serious problem and wrecks havoc on the lives of our citizen warriors and their loved ones.

Dr. Henry Grayson brings elegance and intelligence to this discussion of PTSD for which there is no simple cure or easy solutions. It requires patience and understanding. How we support our brave warriors will tell us much about our society. Over the coming months, SFTT will be reporting on “best practices” in treating PTSD and where and how service members can receive help. Found below, is a short video from Dr. Grayson discussing how a simple exercise can create new “neuro pathways” to reduce anxieties:

Clearly, the path to full recovery for our brave heroes is a long one, but thanks to the efforts of Dr. Grayson and many others who Stand for the Troops, we can help get our young men and women the help that they need. A world without hope is a dreary place indeed.


SFTT targets PTSD: Interview with Eilhys England Hackworth

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I recently had the opportunity to sit down with SFTT Chairperson, Eilhys England Hackworth the wife, partner, co-author, and muse of Stand For the Troops (“SFTT”) founder, the late Colonel David H. Hackworth—America’s most valor-decorated soldier—from the late 1980s until his death. Since the passing of this great American hero in May 2005, Ms. England Hackworth has kept her deathbed promise to her husband to continue SFTT’s mission to protect America’s frontline troops.

The purpose of the meeting was to hear from SFTT’s Chairperson on why post traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) has become such an important “hot button” for SFTT.  What follows below is are key excerpts of the interview:

SFTT:   Eilhys, thank you for your time.  I am continually peppered by questions from readers as to why we changed the name of our organization from Soldiers For the Truth to Stand For the Troops.  Can you explain the reason?

Eilhys:  Happy to do so.  Our new name speaks more easily to what we do on behalf of concerned Americans—stand for the troops—and more specifically, stand for our frontline troops, who stand tall for us and our country.  Our mission to ensure that America’s frontline troops get the best available personal combat gear and protective equipment, including body armor and helmets, remains a priority. But recently we’ve been fielding a horrifying number of cries for help pointing to a lack of adequate care for veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from symptoms of PTSD.

SFTT:  Yes.  PTSD has certainly become a serious problem for returning veterans.   How bad is it?

Eilhys:  Horrific!  Especially when every day in the United States, an average of 18 vets take their own lives – about one every 80 minutes!

 STTT:  That statistic is staggering. So exactly what is post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD?

 Eilhys: The causes or origins of PTSD vary significantly according to psychological, genetic, physical, and social factors but in shorthand:  PTSD changes the body’s response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters).   While the military is trying to cope with the growing problem – now reaching epidemic proportions –  proper treatment is too often beyond the capabilities of our stretched VA hospitals.  Statistics suggests that at least 1 in 5 of our serving men and women suffer from PTSD and this has terrible side-effects on their families and friends.

SFTT:  When did you recognize the seriousness of PTSD for our returning veterans?

 Eilhys:  You know we’re always very connected to what’s going with our warriors.  And early this year, the stories kept hitting the radar just as the suicide and homicide stats were becoming inescapable!  We announced a new PTSD Initiative headed up by Major General John Batiste, U.S. Army (Retired) and then he arranged our close collaboration with a new treatment program, CDS Warrior Salute, with CDS President/CEO Sankar Sewnauth and Major General Robert Mixon, U.S. Army (Retired). But the full tragedy of the effects of PTSD struck home when the heart-breaking story of 36-year old veteran Staff Sgt. Brad Eifert who tried to commit suicide by firing on police officers became a front page New York Times story a few months ago.  Fortunately, Sgt. Eifert didn’t kill himself or anyone else, but it could have been a tragedy.  But then, in spite of the efforts of a compassionate judge, tireless lawyer and inspired Vet Court, who agreed that untreated combat stress disorder or PTSD had  motivated his behavior, he still was about to be sentenced in the absence of any recourse.

 SFTT:  What did you do?

Eilhys:  Within a day or two, I was able to speak with the trial judge, the lawyer representing Sgt. Eifert, the Vet Court Rep and his probation officer and then together John Batiste and I got him admitted to Warriors Salute to serve his probation there – in treatment.  A goal achieved because of inspired teamwork on every level from Michigan, Connecticut, and Rochester, New York.  I’m thrilled to report that Sgt. Eifert will graduate from the program next month with a second chance at life. And all of us are now in the process of delivering several more candidates from the court system to Warrior Salute – and their rightful chance to regain their interrupted young lives.

 SFTT:  You must be so pleased to have rescued this young man?

Eilhys:  “Pleased” is not the right word.  It is our “obligation” to help our returning heroes.  For each person that we’ve been able to reach out to, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of others that need the specific hands-on sanctuary that we’ve been able to offer.

SFTT:  What’s the answer?

Eilhys:  Well, SFTT is assembling a panel of leading experts in this field to determine “best modalities” for treating PTSD and hopefully eventually replicate the Warrior Salute state of the art and science program that evolves at strategically located regional treatment centers. In fact, Dr. Henry Grayson is hosting a seminar for Warrior Salute clinicians on December 3rd in New York City to introduce his highly effective treatment. Hopefully, SFTT   will be sharing highlights on the SFTT website.  And we’ve started developing a national/local resource with several Senators and Congressional representatives to provide an interactive list of public and private treatment options in their states.

SFTT:  This sounds very exciting, but the task seems quite overwhelming.  How can people help?

Eilhys:  Well, it’s key that we both destigmatize PTSD and raise public awareness of the terrible problems faced by our returning warriors.  The social and economic consequences to our society are staggering should we let our brave heroes down.   While many people have given truly valuable time to get our PTSD initiative off the ground, funding is required at this point for a meaningful impact.  Hopefully enough concerned citizens will join the effort by contributing anyway they can. The more members and active volunteers the greater SFTT’s ability to affect change.

SFTT:  Thank you Eilhys.  I am sure SFTT readers will flock to help our brave warriors in their hour of need.

PTSD has alarming social consequences.  If you want to help, please consider becoming a member of SFTT.  Our brave warriors will need your support long after the smoke has cleared from the battlefield.

Richard W. May for SFTT





The US Military Budget Debate

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The US military budget is roughly $700 billion  a year and defense leaders are being asked to cut costs of this sizable and growing budget.    According to a recent article published by NPR, the defense budget represents approximately 50% of total discretionary federal spending.   While the Department of Defense has committed to cut $450 billion in spending over the next ten years, the sad reality is that overall military spending is likely to remain at very high levels when measured as a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”).

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has suggested that any further cuts would most certainly undermine our defense capabilities, but would they?  Several months ago, SFTT contributor Jim Magee offered his suggestions to cut several useless programs and bureaucratic fluff from our military budget and indicated that there were plenty of other programs that deserved the axe.

When it comes to a debate about our serious cuts if it were to compromise our military security.    When considering the large numbers involved, how is one to know if we are more or less secure by adding $100 billion or cutting $100 billion from current levels of spending.     Do more expenditures mean improved security?  It is impossible to answer that question without knowing where the incremental expenditures will be made, but most Congressional leaders are not prepared to be on the side of a debate to demand a more efficient accounting of military expenditures when the safety of the US is at stake.

For this reason, the proponents of increased military spending will always win the debate even if there is credible evidence that our military procurement system is broken.   How do we know?   Well, no less of an authority as the Department of Defense Chief of Acquisition says so.

While one doesn’t want to minimize the challenges ahead, particularly the escalating medical costs of treating our war veterans for PTSD and other medical ailments, Congress and our military leaders must make some tough and realistic decisions without raising the specter of compromising US security.  Do I think this will occur?  Of course not.


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