Interesting case out of New York involving the military and child custody. In a child custody proceeding, a psychiatrist working for the Department of Veterans (otherwise known as the "VA") could be compelled to testify in a custody proceeding. The father in the case was a veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and wanted the psychiatrist to testify. The VA objected to the testimony of the psychiatrist claiming that the New York state court lacked authority to compel the psychiatrist, an employee of the VA, which is a federal agency, to testify in his official capacity as an employee. The VA claimed that federal agencies have the power to restrict the testimony of their employees under agency regulations and that it was not consenting to the psychiatrist's testimony. The attorney for the father, the attorney for the mother, and the attorney for the child all agreed that the psychiatrist's testimony was important to the case. The Court held that the best interests of the child controlled and ordered that the psychiatrist would testify.
The Court noted that:
"Inasmuch as one of the missions of the VA is to provide medical assistance to those who have served in the military, their current policy in this case may have a "chilling effect" on the willingness of other veterans to seek medical assistance from the VA if the VA will not permit physicians to testify even though requisite releases have been executed by the patients."
-Rob Hagy, Charlottesville Divorce Lawyer