Brandon, FL (Law Firm Newswire) January 19, 2012 – A Senate committee called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct an audit of the agency’s $5.7 billion mental health care budget at a hearing last November.
The VA has been heavily criticized because veterans seeking mental health care are having to wait far longer than the agency’s maximum to get a first appointment and often second appointments do not come any sooner.
The Senate and veterans’ advocacy groups have been pushing the VA to do more to help veterans suffering from combat-related conditions like post traumatic stress disorder.
“The VA works so hard to convince the veterans that they can benefit from mental health care – it is a shame the agency isn’t equipped to deliver that care efficiently,” said Brandon veteran disability lawyer David W. Magann. “The men and women fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will need access to care upon their return. We should insist that the VA improve wait times to meet this need.”
The Senate committee heard testimony that the wait times often scare off veterans who seek care. Other witnesses said the suicide rate among veterans is epidemic right now with as many as 18 veterans taking their own life every day.
Senators called for the audit to understand where money is being spent in an attempt to resolve the understaffing at the VA and the unacceptable reaction from the agency to address the problems.
“The VA is one of the largest health care providers in the world,” Magann said. “It will take more than just a cursory study of the agency to resolve the challenge of wait times. It will take big changes in how mental health care is delivered to our veterans.”
Sen. Patty Murray, the chairwoman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, requested an investigation in October after a survey of VA clinics showed almost half of veterans cannot schedule mental health care appointments at the VA within two weeks, as the government’s own guidelines require.
The survey found that 70 percent of VA health care providers were understaffed and too small to meet the needs of veterans that need mental health care.
David W. Magann, P.A.
156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
Call: (813) 657-9175