Under Fire, Chief Of Military’s Mental Health Center Abruptly Quits


Posted on 25th June 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

, , , , , ,

I recently wrote several blogs that criticized the military’s approach to diagnosing and treating brain injury, and it looks like change is in the wind.

Earlier this week  Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, director of the Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, stepped down from her job. She is the one who has been blamed for flaws in the miliary’s attempt to detect brain injury and treat both it and post traumatic stress syndrome.


Despite her resignation, Loree was present for the dedicaiton of a new mental-health facility Thursday that was created after the military’s efforts came under fire. That new facility, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, was contructed entirely with private funding. It’s located at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.   

The new 72,000-square-foot center, according to Stars and Stripes, cost $65 million to build, money that was donated by 125,000 private citizens.

The man behind the new center is Arnold Fisher, who told Stars and Stripes that he wanted to jumpstart better mental health-care services being provided for service members,  particularly soldiers returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from TBI and PTSD.

 The ceremony Thursday officially put control of the new facility into the hands of the the Defense Department.

Sutton is credited with helping to create the Defense Center for Excellence. But her abrupt resignation coincides with mounting  criticism of the military treatment of brain injury.

During a hearing this spring before the House Armed Services subcommittee, Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif., was vocal in her complaints about the Defense Center,  saying it had  “not inspired much confidence,” and had made “some serious management missteps.”

Sutton’s replacement is Col. Robert  Saum, and Sutton has been switched to the army Surgeon General’s Office.

According to Stars and Stripes since 2000 more than 150,000 soldiers have been diagnosd with TBI, and it’s believed that many more go undiagnosed. 



Pentagon Failed To Abide By Order To Test Troops For Brain Injury Before And After Combat

1 comment

Posted on 14th June 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

, , , , ,

The U.S. military has failed to follow a Congressional directive that mandates that soldiers be tested before and after they serve in combat to gauge if they have suffered any brain injuries, according to a story in USA Today.


The paper reported that more than 562,000 tests taken by soldiers before they were shippd out to fight weren’t readminstered when they came home by military health officials. 

According to one of the Congressmen who helped write the 2008 order on the testing, Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., now thousands of solidiers who may have brain damage will go undetected. Pascrell is co-chariman of the bi-partisan Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.

The Pentagon contends that the test, called the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics, or ANAM, used to check the soldiers isn’t accurate. Lt. General Eric Schoonmaker, the Army surgeon general, told USA Today that the test is “no better than a coin flip.”

 Another officer, Lt. Col. Michael Russell, chief of the army’s ANAM program, claimed the test comes out with too many false-positive results, and that such results could occur even by someone taking a medication such as Benadryl.

But defenders of the test said that it is just designed to indicate if a soldier’s cognitive processes have worsened, meaning that additional testing is necessary. In other words, the ANAM test is a good screening tool. 

Neuropsychologist Tresa Roebuck-Spencer, who is with the University of Oklahoma, told USA Today that when the post-combat test is compared to the first one, the false-positive test results drop out. The university developed and distributes the ANAM test for the army.

USA Today reported that 575,000 pre-deplolyment tests were collected at a price of about $30 each. But only 12,000 to 13,000 have been used for comparisons. 

Traditionally the military has expected soldiers to report their own head injuries. Somewhere in the range of 5 percent to 15 percent continue to have problems from their brain trauma, according to USA Today.