Lawmakers Ready Last-Minute Push To Prevent Veteran Suicides
With just days to go in the lame-duck session, House and Senate lawmakers will try to fast-track a bill aimed at reducing these deaths. Elsewhere, a VA system in Alabama continues to face long waits for mental health care.
Lawmakers Set Last-Ditch Push To Prevent Veteran Suicides
House and Senate lawmakers are poised to use the final days of the lame-duck session to pass a bill aimed at preventing veteran suicides. With only days left before the 113th Congress wraps up, lawmakers are looking to fast track the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. The legislation, named after a young Iraq War veteran who committed suicide in 2011, calls for independent evaluations of suicide-prevention programs in the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments. The review would determine which efforts are successful or should be eliminated. (Matishak, 12/6)
The Associated Press:
Long Waits For Mental Health Care At Alabama VA
Veterans seeking mental health services at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System still have among the longest waits in the country, according to federal statistics. New patients seeking mental health care at the systems are waiting an average of 67 days for an appointment, according to Department of Veterans Affairs' data from Oct. 14. There were only three networks where patients experienced higher average wait times. Patients at the VA systems in Martinsburg, West Virginia; Amarillo, Texas; and Spokane, Washington waited between 76 and 88 days on average. U.S. Rep. Martha Roby of Montgomery, who has become one of the sharpest critics of the Alabama system, said she is concerned that the wait times are getting longer, not shorter, according to the federal data. A June audit reported the wait time was 57 days at the Central Alabama system, which was also among the worst in the nation. (Chandler, 12/6)