Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered every branch of the U.S. military to review how it diagnoses mental health disorders among soldiers dating to 2001.
Senator Patty Murray, D-Washington, chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, pressed for the investigation after reports of hundreds of soldiers being misdiagnosed and in some cases accused of faking symptoms of PTSD at Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington.
Murray led a hearing in Washington, D.C. Wednesday and addressed Panetta directly about her concerns.
"At Madigan, over 100 soliders and counting have had their PTSD diagnosis now restored after being told they were exaurating their claims, lying and accused of shirking their duties," said Murray.
Murray also highlighted the impact of the mental health care shortcomings, pointing to statistics that show that military suicides are outpacing combat deaths.
While she noted the Army has already begun a system-wide review, she said improvements should extend to other branches of the military.
"This is not just an Army disability evaluation system. This is a joint DOD and VA program covering all of the services. Why has the Department not taken the lead in evaluating and making improvements to this system?" Murray asked.
"What I've asked is the other service chiefs to implement the same approach that the Army's taken," Panetta responded. "…I'm not satisfied either. We're doing everything we can to try to build a better system between the Pentagon, the Department of Defense and VA. But there are still huge gaps in terms of the differences in terms of how they approach these cases and how they diagnose the cases and how they deal with them, and frankly, that's a whole area we have to do much better on."
Panetta said the Pentagon-wide review will be led by the Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness.
Read the full transcript or watch video of the dialogue between Senator Murray and Secretary Panetta: