TACOMA, Wash. -- U.S. Senator Patty Murray has kicked off a field hearing in Tacoma into the psychological challenges many returning veterans face to make sure they get help.
The hearing comes on the heels of the misdiagnosis of dozens of returning soldiers whose initial diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was overturned at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
"Far too many vets slipped through the cracks," said Murray, referring to the way Vietnam era vets were treated.
Murray recalled her days as an intern in the psychological wards at the Veteran's Administration hospital in Seattle during the Vietnam era.
"The system frequently fails at the level of the soldier," said Army veteran Sarah Lillegard, who served in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer in a unit that saw heavy fighting and casualties.
Witnesses testifying included vets from both Afghanistan and Iraq and senior Army medical staff.
John Millan served in Iraq and received a Bronze Star. Years later, PTSD nearly led to his suicide.
“I'm not surprised by the number of suicides our armed forces have witnessed in recent years,” he said.
Estimates by some veterans groups say up to 18-percent of returning veterans suffer from PTSD