Army Surgeon General Suspends “Trust Enhancement” Program Following Investigation

Apr 19, 2013

In 2010 the tempo of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were saddling the Army’s Medical Treatment Facilities with thousands of soldiers needing complex healthcare. That same year Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker chartered a task force to help improve trust. He believed trust was the foundation of Army Medicine.

  The "Trust and Enhancement Sustainment Task Force" was headquartered at Madigan Army Medical Center. Now the Surgeon General’s Office has confirmed that the 3.1 million dollar program was suspended in December after an internal investigation. KUOW’s Patricia Murphy reports.

Task Force staff was charged with conducting trust enhancement trainings at 242 Army Medical Treatment Facilities nationwide.

In a 2010 Army Medicine newsletter Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker touted the so called “Culture of Trust” initiative as strategic to improving patient care and the Army healthcare experience.

Army investigators found anything but. They found the Task Force lacked the structure and employee training standards to execute its mission.

The 721 page investigation was obtained through Freedom of Information Act Request by KUOW. The heavily redacted documents reveal that the program’s Director confirmed as Claudette Elliot encouraged employees to participate in what were deemed to be questionable practices including the unauthorized use of Wiccan rituals and energy readings.

The document revealed that Elliot and a few others in the organization encouraged what investigators called a toxic, cult-like atmosphere. Employees were required to keep personal journals which were turned in and discussed during staff meetings.

Investigators found that during these meetings brutal negative feedback was encouraged among employees which resulted in bullying and "a wolf pack mentality."

Elliot was found to be using a PHD from an unaccredited university. Investigators determined that the use of the title posed a potential risk to the integrity of Army Medicine. Investigators recommended that Elliot be placed on administrative leave. Elliot did not return calls for comment Thursday.

In a statement the office of the Army Surgeon General says the Task Force mission was suspended in December after it was determined that the organization was executing its mission outside of Army Medicine and Army values.

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