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Branding a Soldier With ‘Personality Disorder’ (is DOD saving money by avoiding PTSD diagonses?)
The New York Times ^ | 2/24/2012 | James Dao

Posted on 02/25/2012 7:30:34 AM PST by darrellmaurina

Capt. Susan Carlson was not a typical recruit when she volunteered for the Army in 2006 at the age of 50. But the Army desperately needed behavioral health professionals like her, so it signed her up.

Captain Carlson went to Afghanistan in 2011, seeking “to experience what soldiers experience.” Though she was, by her own account, “not a strong soldier,” she received excellent job reviews at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where she counseled prisoners. But last year, Captain Carlson, a social worker, was deployed to Afghanistan with the Colorado National Guard and everything fell apart.

After a soldier complained that she had made sexually suggestive remarks, she was suspended from her counseling duties and sent to an Army psychiatrist for evaluation. His findings were shattering: She had, he said in a report, a personality disorder, a diagnosis that the military has used to discharge thousands of troops. She was sent home.

She disputed the diagnosis, but it was not until months later that she found what seemed powerful ammunition buried in her medical file, portions of which she provided to The New York Times. “Her command specifically asks for a diagnosis of a personality disorder,” a document signed by the psychiatrist said.

Veterans’ advocates say Captain Carlson stumbled upon evidence of something they had long suspected but had struggled to prove: that military commanders pressure clinicians to issue unwarranted psychiatric diagnoses to get rid of troops.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: army; personalitydisorder; personalitydisorders; ptsd; veterans; vets
It's pretty clear from the article that the Army may have had good reason to view Capt. Carlson as a problematic soldier. What kind of 50-year-old female officer makes sexually suggestive comments to junior enlisted personnel? However, the issue of manipulating psychological diagonses from PTSD to "personality disorder" -- the latter is considered a prexisting condition that doesn't qualify for medical retirement and related benefits -- is a serious issue that needs to be considered as the Department of Defense tries to figure out how to handle mental health discharges.

My personal view, not knowing the specifics of Capt. Carlson's case, is that the Army may have been better off trying to deal with Capt. Carlson's actual actions, which can likely be evaluated by the legal system or via commanders' nonjudicial punishment as appropriate or inappropriate, rather than trying to deal with this as an issue of mental health. Trying to "psychologize bad behavior" is often perceived as lightening punishment, but in a case like this, it also moves from provable facts to things that are very hard to prove one way or the other and can result in people getting hit with penalties for hard-to-evaluate diagnoses.

1 posted on 02/25/2012 7:30:37 AM PST by darrellmaurina
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To: darrellmaurina
"...behavioral health professionals..."

Shrinks tend to self select to investigate why they, personally, are crazy.

2 posted on 02/25/2012 7:32:51 AM PST by Paladin2
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To: darrellmaurina

When I worked for my previous company - a DoD contractor. We had a guy who did a year in Iraq and when he got back, management did everything to get rid of him but definitely walked a fine line to get rid of him. When he got back, they assigned him to a position where he had to show but had nothing to do and as soon as enough time passed by, they laid him off. Pretty shameful IMHO.


3 posted on 02/25/2012 7:36:06 AM PST by CORedneck
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To: Paladin2

Bingo.


4 posted on 02/25/2012 7:36:14 AM PST by ClearCase_guy ("And the public gets what the public wants" -- The Jam)
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To: Paladin2

I didn’t even know you could volunteer at the age of 50.


5 posted on 02/25/2012 7:37:36 AM PST by Hildy ("When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser." - SocratesH)
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To: Hildy
5 posted on Saturday, February 25, 2012 9:37:36 AM by Hildy: “I didn’t even know you could volunteer at the age of 50.”

Depends on the MOS and branch of service. For critical high-need duties, waivers are much more likely to be granted. Also, the Army and especially the Army National Guard are much more willing to grant waivers that the other services would be willing to do for the same duties.

There are also special rules for people with prior military service who want to come back in. Here's an example of the Army Reserve taking a 51-year-old with prior service in the Navy: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2848310/posts

6 posted on 02/25/2012 7:44:53 AM PST by darrellmaurina
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To: Hildy
If you have skills the military needs, they can waive the age limits. If read of quite elderly surgeons in the military, for example.

I do wonder why a social worker would need to be equipped for night vision, though.


7 posted on 02/25/2012 7:48:54 AM PST by Sooth2222 ("Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of congress. But I repeat myself." M.Twain)
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To: darrellmaurina
The article does not provide the necessary information to judge, as the diagnosis requires a thorough life history. We know nothing about this woman, or her previous life problems. A fifty year old social worker wanting to join the Army does arouse suspicion.

It is not true that a personality disorder necessarily causes a lifetime of "job difficulties and broken relationships." Sometimes it does, but then Bill Clinton was one of the most severe personality disorders in public history and he was quite successful.

Personality Disorder NOS is a suspect diagnosis because there usually are sufficient criteria met to settle on one type or another. One problem not explained here is, psychiatrists are generally weak on the personality disorders. They don't like them much because there is no medication treatment for them, and are seldom expert at the diagnosis.

Finally, it is not true that her diagnosis will be on her discharge papers. That is simply a false statement, probably picked up from one of the advocates on whose opinions the story is based.

8 posted on 02/25/2012 7:52:33 AM PST by hinckley buzzard
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To: darrellmaurina

50 year old woman, making sexually suggestive comments to junior enlisted personnel. Hmmmm. She’s a social worker in her real life. So, I’d venture to guess that she just might be a little liberal.

She deploys and is surrounded by meat eating men all day and night, high levels of testosterone not normally found in her functions with her liberal friends. She was one of handful of women in the area and she wanted to get busy with some of the guys.

Then they start talking to her and find out she’s batshit crazy like most liberal women. surprise surprise


9 posted on 02/25/2012 7:58:06 AM PST by qaz123
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To: hinckley buzzard
A fifty year old social worker wanting to join the Army does arouse suspicion.

Sounds like "conduct unbecoming a Officer and Gentlewoman"

10 posted on 02/25/2012 8:00:16 AM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: Sooth2222
7 posted on Saturday, February 25, 2012 9:48:54 AM by Sooth2222: “If you have skills the military needs, they can waive the age limits. If read of quite elderly surgeons in the military, for example.”

Yep... I interviewed a surgeon who asked to be brought back on active duty; I think he was in his sixties when he came back on active duty and may have still been on active duty in his seventies. A medical examiner testified at a court martial I covered whose dress uniform caused my Public Affairs media escort to ask him questions — the PAO didn't recognize some of the ribbons which turned out to be from the Korean War as a very young man.

11 posted on 02/25/2012 8:12:10 AM PST by darrellmaurina
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To: Paladin2
the military needs to be able to get rid of people that can't cope, are misfits, or idiots, or perverts, or just lazy or incompetant....there has to be some way to do that...

in these politically correct times, its probably not easy to send back and discharge a female without some major cause...

is the military going to be another union job with seniority and quota systems?....are bad or lazy soldiers just going to be tenured in, like teachers?

its scary....

12 posted on 02/25/2012 8:13:29 AM PST by cherry
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To: darrellmaurina

This situation goes to show that nothing is new under the sun. The same thing happened in the Carter years when the military took some severe hits in manpower. I was an Air Force mental health specialist on an Air Training Command base. Our appointment books were full of young airmen who were referred by their commanders for alleged “difficulties” in adapting to the military. A behavior disorder diagnosis was easy, too easy, to make in many cases. Most of those young people were given administrative discharges, general under honorable conditions, with no hope of ever claiming benefits of any sort. So in short, the Mental Health Clinic became a discharge factory.


13 posted on 02/25/2012 8:56:05 AM PST by ChoobacKY
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To: darrellmaurina

The VA shrink I see said that in the 60s and 70s personality disorder was a required diagnosis even when the doctors knew it was inaccurate. Doctors knew something was going on but it wasn’t personality disorder. It was of course finally called Post Vietnam Syndrome, now known as PTSD. The entire ploy was to save money.
As to the claim made by the enlistee:who’s to say the claim is factual?


14 posted on 02/25/2012 10:05:48 AM PST by em2vn
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To: em2vn

“Doctors knew something was going on but it wasn’t personality disorder. It was of course finally called Post Vietnam Syndrome, now known as PTSD. The entire ploy was to save money.”

As you said, they knew something was going on but didn’t know it was PTSD. I agree, so this means their aim was to provide the best diagnosis they could. Therefore, it had nothing to do with saving money as your own statement made clear they didn’t have the option of PTSD. Just PD.


15 posted on 02/25/2012 10:39:40 AM PST by Hulka
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To: UriÂ’el-2012

I know Susan personally. We are both Army Social Work Officers; we worked together at the prison in Ft. Leavenworth. Let me start by telling you [all] what I think about Susan allegedly saying something sexually inappropriate - bollocks!

I will not comment on the other matter specific to her case but I’ll leave you with my two cents regarding her situation as it relates to soldiers as a whole. In my opinion, it’s part of a “draw down”; if that’s true, among the first to be discharged will be the soldiers with medical or mental health diagnosis; then those with legal issues, poor performance and “chapterable” conditions such as misconduct… she’s a good person with a big heart. She loves being a social worker and loves it even more in the Army. Susan bleeds green.

As for some of the other comments, I’ll just speak briefly on two: [Age]: Social Workers are a part of the Army’s Medical Service Corp. That branch includes: physicians, veterinarians, dentists, psychiatrists and biochemists to name a few. Unlike most branches in the Army, age is not necessarily a disqualifier. Furthermore, we can enter as Captains and Colonels without even having been in the military. That being said, be sure to ask the next soldier you see with a prosthetic leg, how important was their doctor’s age when they got their leg blown off?”

[suspicion]: Just like Susan, I joined late. I was 40 at the time. I did so because the Army gave me $90,000 to pay my student loan; 100% medical care; free travel; free room and board; a $25,000 unsecured “starter” loan with 5%APR and bonuses when we earn additional credentials. If that’s “suspicious”, then there’s another 500,000 “suspicious” soldiers returning form combat. Be sure to tell them what you think:)


16 posted on 02/25/2012 9:38:29 PM PST by STEPWILLIS (Susan Carlson, Army, Social Worker)
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To: STEPWILLIS
I know Susan personally. We are both Army Social Work Officers; we worked together at the prison in Ft. Leavenworth. Let me start by telling you [all] what I think about Susan allegedly saying something sexually inappropriate - bollocks! I will not comment on the other matter specific to her case but I’ll leave you with my two cents regarding her situation as it relates to soldiers as a whole. In my opinion, it’s part of a “draw down”; if that’s true, among the first to be discharged will be the soldiers with medical or mental health diagnosis; then those with legal issues, poor performance and “chapterable” conditions such as misconduct… she’s a good person with a big heart. She loves being a social worker and loves it even more in the Army. Susan bleeds green. As for some of the other comments, I’ll just speak briefly on two: [Age]: Social Workers are a part of the Army’s Medical Service Corp. That branch includes: physicians, veterinarians, dentists, psychiatrists and biochemists to name a few. Unlike most branches in the Army, age is not necessarily a disqualifier. Furthermore, we can enter as Captains and Colonels without even having been in the military. That being said, be sure to ask the next soldier you see with a prosthetic leg, how important was their doctor’s age when they got their leg blown off?” [suspicion]: Just like Susan, I joined late. I was 40 at the time. I did so because the Army gave me $90,000 to pay my student loan; 100% medical care; free travel; free room and board; a $25,000 unsecured “starter” loan with 5%APR and bonuses when we earn additional credentials. If that’s “suspicious”, then there’s another 500,000 “suspicious” soldiers returning form combat. Be sure to tell them what you think:)

STEPWILLIS
Since Feb 25, 2012

Thanks for joining FR.


17 posted on 02/26/2012 7:37:38 AM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: STEPWILLIS

Blunt comments below—Warning

Nice you defend her. I would rather wait for the facts to come out rather than, not to be too blunt, accept what some friend say she couldn’t possibly have done. We have all read and hear on the news after some nasty crime, the neighbors/friends/relatives of the criminal say, “she is such a nice person,” “she would never hurt a fly,” “she could not possibly done the deed, as she is such an angel,” etc. . .you get the point.

And regarding your assessment of the priority of the draw down, I would expect you to put your vocation as number one on the hit parade. Why? Because that justifies why some of your peers are getting axed while you see other, more deserving non-performers, staying in.

Fact is, draw downs happen and the effort is to ensure we keep the most fit (mentally and physically) people on active duty. Medical retirements or separations have processes and review board well before separation papers are drawn up. Nothing new there.

Finally, “Furthermore, we can enter as Captains and Colonels without even having been in the military. That being said, be sure to ask the next soldier you see with a prosthetic leg, how important was their doctor’s age when they got their leg blown off?”

Sheesh. . again not to be too blunt, but come one, really? You talk about entering active duty as a captain or colonel and then somehow tie that to age and invent some sort of straw-man to support your made-up point? Might as well ask, “Heck, be sure to ask the next soldier you see with a prosthetic leg, how important was their pilots age when he flew that CAS mission saving his life,” or “Heck, be sure to ask the next soldier you see with a prosthetic leg, how important was the fact the medic was a homosexual when he saved his life.”

Onto another point: In the medical field you are not officers in the true sense. Your pay-grade is exactly that, a pay-grade. Nothing more, nothing less, and in fact, much less than an officer that earned his rank through professional military training and out on the line leading men and taking the fight to the enemy. And because of Geneva protections, you can never be the SRO in any combat situation, from firefights to POW camp. You can’t LEAD, and that is what officer do in combat.

Because you came on active duty as a captain or a colonel means nothing. It especially doesn’t mean you are any better or more capable than any 2Lt on the line.

Bonuses and pay and all those goodies you brag on supports studies that prove most medical personnel, and a majority of women, enter active duty for those reasons (pay, tuition, travel, etc). This is in direct contrast to the major motivations as to why men enter active duty (to serve, patriotic duty, the challenge, etc). While in the Pentagon in the mid-90’s, the results of those studies made quite a stir because it required a whole new approach to recruiting.

Basically, what you said, and tried to justify, is you are “serving” because of base selfish purposes, i.e., what’s in it for me.

I expect you to rant/reply, and that’s okay, I promise to maybe read your reply. But thing is, I’ve said my piece and will move on.

Have a nice day.


18 posted on 02/26/2012 7:59:10 AM PST by Hulka
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To: Hulka

Re-read my post. The doctors knew what it wasn’t, Personality Disorder, and they did know what it was. They were prohibited from giving a diagnosis other than Personality Disorder.It was certainly about money.


19 posted on 02/27/2012 9:38:37 AM PST by em2vn
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To: Hulka

——WARNING——ENLIGHTENMENT BELOW——WARNING——
I’m going to try and make this quick. You started out pretty strong with intellectual arguments and sensible analogies but then you drifted a bit when you allowed your emotions to take control. By the time you were done, I was convinced you knew little about that which you speak.
The connection I was trying to make between her age and rank was for the purpose of addressing the numerous comments that seem to link both citing they believe her incompetent because she was an “aged Captain” (i.e. implying she must’ve been demoted due to poor performance]. You see, generally speaking, an officer’s rank is relative to their age. In other words, while the AVERAGE 2LT’s are 22-27; 1LT’s 25-30; by the time the average officer turns 40, they “should” have earned MAJ... Susan is over 50 which mean she “should” at least be a LTC right? Wrong! (Refer to my first post if you’re lost). Long story short, the connection between her age and rank is very much comparative and relevant to this discussion. Is that a little clearer now or do you still not see a connection? Sorry, sometimes, the structure of my responses are NOT just limited to the feedback within The Free Republic.
Social Workers need to be equipped with night vision for the very same reason an 11B would, to see at the night. Duh! Believe it or not, all Army Social Workers don’t fall out of rainbows. You’d be surprise to know some of their backgrounds. I have a friend at Ft. Leavenworth who was Special Forces and is now an Army social worker; another who went from 1SG to 2LT (imagine that pay check). Would you believe it if I told you that I used to be a 19K and a 52D (they’re called something else now)? Would you believe it if I told you that not only can I land nav but I can also read aeronautical charts? We are issued the same equipment you are and are expected to learn everything you’re required. We zero, we learn combative, we get jump qualified (ask me how I know that) and on top of being a soldier serving soldiers, we have to stay well read to keep atop of our ever changing field.
My last thought and I’m outta here… Someone said a social worker “can’t be a leader”?! Dude/dudette, how old are you? If you’re under 25, I won’t be so harsh but if you’re any older, go shoot yourself in the pinkie toe. First of all, let me clear-up something. There are tons of jobs in the Army. Not everyone is recruited to kick-in doors but just for your enlightenment, Social Workers hold the rank of COL and run divisions just like the commander of the 3ID. Yes, you are right, we don’t command the cav, infantry, tankers, supply, mortars, etc. but it’s because we are specialists. Our job is to support them. The fact that we are officers compels us to lead. Being a leader isn’t always a “position”... at times, it’s by example, encouragement, mentoring and a lot of other touchy-feely words.
Look, it’s late and I have to get some sleep. If you reply, don’t say anything that may temp me to respond because I have so much work to do this week - LOL. Sorry for any grammatical or spelling errors.


20 posted on 02/29/2012 8:31:55 PM PST by STEPWILLIS (Susan Carlson, Army, Social Worker)
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To: darrellmaurina

It will end up just suing the DOD for causing it.


21 posted on 02/29/2012 8:34:48 PM PST by eyedigress ((Old storm chaser from the west)/?)
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To: darrellmaurina

“But her problems began soon after she arrived in Afghanistan last February. She got lost outside a combat outpost and wore shorts when she should have been in combat uniform. Then a junior enlisted soldier accused her of sexual harassment, citing an off-color remark she made during a game of Scrabble with several soldiers at a combat outpost.”

Does anybody know what happen to male Soldiers who get “lost” outside a combat outpost? Bad stuff. I wonder how many Soldiers had to go and find Capt Carlson when she got lost, thus endangering everybody with her fruit loop actions.
“Hmm, I shall put on these shorts, and take a hike through the exotic wilds of Afghanistan. Let me take my expensive camera, and photograph the harsh beauty of the rugged terrain.” Hint- it’s war. She got lost, and a few good men had to mount up and find her before she was kidnapped, raped, and possibly killed.
I don’t know her, her case, or anything, but if the NYT had these facts and her pic and interviewed her, these facts are probably good.


22 posted on 03/18/2012 11:14:30 AM PDT by baileybat
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To: baileybat; eyedigress; STEPWILLIS; em2vn; Hulka; UriÂ’el-2012; ChoobacKY; cherry; qaz123; ...
Quick note to thank you for your comments. I hadn't seen the more recent items on this thread until someone pinged me to it.

My read of this specific situation is that it's sad for all involved. We may or may not get the details later since this isn't a high-profile case, or at least it wasn't until Capt. Carlson entered the media fray.

My long-term concern is not so much Capt. Carlson, since I don't know the facts in her case, but rather the issue of “psychologizing” behavior issues. Mental health issues exist, and they need to be dealt with, but when people are pushed out of the military based on very subjective criteria rather than specific bad behavior, we need to be concerned.

If we're going to have a RIF, let's do it right by first getting rid of people who are proven poor performers, not by psychologizing things which warrant prosecution, especially when that has the effect of cutting the bills by reducing benefits paid.

23 posted on 03/19/2012 3:14:40 AM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: darrellmaurina

Good gracious, people!

The article is from the New Yort Times! The New York Times!!!!

Take it with a very big grain of salt.

In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here to state most of the “facts” are BS because it is from the New York Times.

A soldier comes on here and posts that he actually KNOWS the Captain, speaks a few words of support for her, and you are all going to dispute him in favor of what you read in the New York Freekin’ Times? That’s an M.O. for liberals; not FReepers.


24 posted on 03/19/2012 4:02:29 AM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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