Court Finds Feds Fell Short In Providing Veterans With Mental Health Services

A federal appeals court called for drastic improvements in the system and charged Congress and the president with failing to take appropriate action to such a degree that veterans' civil rights have been violated.

Los Angeles Times: Court Orders Major Overhaul Of VA's Mental Health System
A federal appeals court Tuesday lambasted the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to care for those suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and ordered a major overhaul of the behemoth agency. Treatment delays for PTSD and other combat-related mental illnesses are so "egregious" that they violate veterans' constitutional rights and contribute to the despair behind many of the 6,500 suicides among veterans each year, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said in its 2-1 ruling (Williams, 5/11).

Reuters: Court Says Congress And President Failed To Help Veterans
Accusing Congress and the president of neglecting to take appropriate action to save veterans' lives, a federal appeals court called for drastic improvements to the Department of Veterans' Affairs mental health care system. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in a 104-page decision issued on Tuesday, cited the failure of the political branches to address what it called the VA's "egregious problems" and "unchecked incompetence" in delivering mental health services to veterans. That failure, the three-judge panel held, violated the veterans' due process rights under the U.S. Constitution (Baynes, 5/10).

KQED: Appeals Court Rules That Delays in Medical Care Violates Veterans Rights
On average it takes more than four years for a veteran's claims to go through. The court noted that these delays cause "unnecessary grief and privation" for veterans and their families. "The VA's unchecked incompetence has gone on long enough; no more veterans should be compelled to agonize or perish while the government fails to perform its obligations," wrote Circuit Judge Reinhardt in the opinion (Pickoff-White, 5/10).

Des Moines Register: Local VA Mental Health Care Given An 'F' By Advocate For Veterans
An activist who works with injured veterans said the Des Moines Veterans Affairs Medical Center is plagued by the same kind of poor mental health care that an appeals court cited nationally on Tuesday. "I would say that they would rank an 'F' if they had a report card," said P.J. Sesker-Green of Grimes, who volunteers with a veterans-assistance group called Operation First Response (Leys, 5/11). 

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