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


Posted on 25th June 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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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.