LVMAC Tidbits

VA Found Incompetent

On 10 May, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in an a 104-page opinion asserted that years of “unchecked incompetence” at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was directly responsible for an epidemic of suicides and lengthy delays in processing disability benefits for war veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It ruled “that the VA’s failure to provide adequate procedures for veterans facing prejudicial delays in the delivery of mental health care violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.”

“VA’s unchecked incompetence has gone on long enough,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote for the majority. “No more veterans should be compelled to agonize or perish while the government fails to perform its obligations.”

The Ninth Circuit’s surprise 2-1 decision came in response to a federal lawsuit filed four years ago against various government officials by nonprofit advocacy groups Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) and Veterans United for Truth.

The Ninth Circuit ordered VA officials to implement a “systemwide” plan to address a shortage of suicide counselors at outpatient clinics used by veterans and to take action to clear up the backlog of pending claims.

[Editorial comment: Unfortunately, we believe in areas such as ours it will result in more of the same under-performance in assistance for mental health and associated problems. The issue is not a new one. Reports go back as far as 1970’s at least. The VA Vet Centers were an outgrowth of an earlier problem, for example.  The VA needs to partner with local organizations which can help extend its range of service.  It needs to put more deeds behind its words of working with communities such as ours.]

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As of 18 May 2011

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