Psychologist Who Evaluated Mentally-Stressed Ft Drum Soldier Is Wrongfully Excluded as Witness from Army Sanity Board set for June 18th.
Dr. David Ogren, a clinical psychologist from Houston, TX with fifteen years' experience treating victims of mental trauma, spent hours examining and testing Specialist Trevor Loope, 23, of Austin, TX. Loope, who spent fifteen months in Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division, left Ft Drum in late 2007 because he was unable to obtain therapy for his PTSD and depression at the base.
Dr. Ogren prepared a detailed eleven-page psychiatric evaluation, which concluded that Loope suffered from "severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a Major Depression."
Ft Drum commanders have scheduled a "sanity board" to assess Loope's mental health status on Thursday, June 19th 10:00 am at Ft Drum's Mental Health facility. They also preferred criminal charges against Loope for AWOL with trial by a Special Court Martial set for July 1st.
Two weeks ago, Dr. Ogren telephoned Ft Drum's mental health chief, Dr.Todd Benham offering to serve as an expert witness before the sanity board. Ogren's offer involved no expense to the military, since he is willing to pay his own travel expenses from Houston. On Monday, June 15th, Dr. Benham finally returned Ogren's call, asking him why he had phoned. When Ogren told him of his desire to testify at Loope's hearing, Benham remarked that that this was "ridiculous" and that since it was a closed hearing, he didn't think that Ogren would be allowed to testify.
Tod Ensign, Esq., Director, of Citizen Soldier, a GI advocacy group, and civilian attorney assisting Specialist Loope, will challenge the legality of this "sanity board" if Dr. Ogren is not allowed to testify. According to the Rules for Court Martial (706 (c)(2), which establishes the rules for these boards, one of the four key questions that a panel must answer is, "what is the clinical diagnosis" for the soldier being examined? Also, the sanity board is "required to fairly and impartially examine the accused." Ensign will argue that Dr. Benham's apparent bias against Dr. Ogren's participation jeopardizes the panel's ability to render a fair and dispassionate opinion in this case. Finally, Ensign will urge that Loope's sanity board be dissolved and be reconstituted at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where objective panelists can be found.