BOZEMAN, MT — A doctor prescribed Montana Democratic Sen. John Walsh medication for symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder after he returned from an Army deployment in Iraq, but he was not formally diagnosed with PTSD, the senator confirmed to Yahoo News following revelations this week that he had plagiarized a paper to receive his masters degree at the Army War College in 2007.
The New York Times revealed Wednesday that Walsh had plagiarized major portions of a research paper he wrote while he earning degree, a charge Walsh initially responded to by saying that he was suffering from PTSD at the time. But in an interview with Yahoo News here Friday, Walsh said that PTSD “in no way” contributed to him breaking the Army War College’s honor code.
“I met with VA doctors, came back, went to the VA hospital here for a process period,” Walsh said when pressed on whether he had been formally diagnosed with PTSD. “When I came back, I had private insurance, I went to my personal physician in Helena, Montana and talked about what I was dealing with. He prescribed medication for me. …He said there were symptoms of PTSD.”
A Walsh aide told Yahoo News that the doctor prescribed Paxil, an antidepressant commonly used to treat PTSD.
According to the Times report, Walsh’s paper, “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy,” borrowed heavily from a 1998 paper published by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a 2003 paper published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
As the Times report showed, Walsh’s plagiarism was far more egregious than just a few forgotten citations. In some cases, Walsh copied long section from the sources word-for-word without attribution. When asked if he had plagiarized other papers during his time at the Army War College, Walsh called the paper in question “an isolated incident.”
“I don’t believe that they would” find other instances of plagiarism, Walsh told Yahoo News. On Friday, the Army War College announced that an analysis of the paper following the Times report had determined “reasonable cause to refer the case to the US Army War College Academic Review Board.”
Walsh is facing a tough race against Republican challenger Montana Rep. Steve Daines. Walsh’s campaign on Thursday released a defensive memo calling the plagiarized paper “an unintentional mistake” and announcing that Walsh would not step down from the race.
Other Democrats rose to his defense this week, saying that academics weren’t Walsh’s strong suit. “Look, Walsh is a soldier, he's not an academic,” Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester told the Los Angeles Times. “And I just think if a person bores down below the surface, it's not near as big a deal as it appears right now.”
A page from Walsh’s 2007 Army War College yearbook obtained by Yahoo News — the only photographic evidence available to this point of his time there — shows him smiling and playing golf with friends under the caption, “H20, Beer, H20 Break” and “You think they will miss us at seminar?”
Walsh retired from the National Guard in 2012 and was sworn in as Montana’s Lt. Governor the next year. He was appointed to the Senate earlier this year when Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus stepped down to become the U.S. Ambassador to China.