The House Veterans' Affairs Committee continued their series of oversight hearings into the ongoing systemic problems plaguing the VA's delivery of care, with a hearing today focused on mental health services and suicide prevention. The panelists included family members of deceased service members who shared their personal difficulties in obtaining acceptable VA care during their time of need.
Following today's hearing, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME), Ranking Member, released the following statement:
"When a veteran is experiencing depression or other early warning signs that may indicate mental health issues or even suicide, that must be treated like an immediate medical crisis -- because that is exactly what it is. But instead, veterans in at least one facility waited upwards of 432 days -- well over a year -- for an appointment. When 18 to 22 veterans are committing suicide each day, and are experiencing wait times of up to a year or longer to receive even a consultation, the VA is doing something very, very wrong.
"The VA's mental health spending has more than doubled in recent years, but the medical services delivered over the same timeframe have essentially remained flat. Clearly, something is not working. We are confronting many problems at the VA at this moment, but surely getting to the bottom of inadequate mental healthcare services must be a priority. Our veterans and their families sacrifice so much for us, and it is unconscionable for us not to be there for them -- particularly in a moment of need."