Aaron Ostrum and his wife thought they got a blessing early last year when the Army reconsidered the former soldier’s mental health records and changed his diagnosis to post-traumatic stress disorder.
The couple believed the adjusted diagnosis more accurately reflected the psychological toll of his experiences inspecting mass graves in Bosnia and serving on security details in Baghdad. They expected the PTSD diagnosis would get him better care and more money in monthly disability benefits to support his family.
A year and a half later, they have the PTSD diagnosis in hand, but they’re still struggling to get the Army to follow through with changes to his service records and retirement benefits. “What else do they want? I don’t understand,” the former Washington National Guard specialist said in an interview at his Pierce County house.
Ostrum, 35, was one of more than 400 military service members and veterans called back to Madigan Army Medical Center in early 2012 amid concerns that doctors there had improperly diagnosed PTSD in such a way that soldiers received fewer benefits than they deserved. Patients met with doctors from other hospitals in what the Army called a fusion cell at Madigan.
Of that group, 158 left the process with new diagnoses for service-connected PTSD. The Army says 13 of them still have unresolved cases in terms of diagnoses or final adjustments to their retirement benefits.