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Brain Drain

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By Dawn Lim

As if Gen. Stanley McChrystal's big-bang farewell wasn't enough, another military leader is headed for the exits. Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, the director of the military's top center for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, has unexpectedly stepped down, reports ProPublica.

The leadership of the Defense Centers of Excellence, or DCoE, will now fall on Col. Robert W. Saum, a former behavioral health science adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A spokeswoman said Sutton's departure was part of a routine command rotation. But ProPublica notes Sutton only was scheduled to retire next year, and has stepped down "apparently well ahead of schedule."

The news came as USA Today reported on Army task force findings highlighting the military's failure to provide consistent and coordinated pain relief to troops. This contributed to suicides, prescription drug abuse and aggravated cases of mental illness and brain injury in the military, the task force concluded.

There are other signs of cracks in the military's management of mental health issues. For instance, last month Government Executive senior correspondent Katherine McIntire Peters reported on questions surrounding the Pentagon's method of determining which instrument works best for evaluating mild traumatic brain injuries that can lead to serious impairment later on.

 

Amelia Gruber covered management and contracting for Government Executive for three years before becoming an editor. She also has worked as an editor at Roll Call newspaper and as a research assistant at the Urban Institute. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College, with a major in economics, and a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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