By Byron Shehee
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY— US Representative Martha Roby (AL-02) addressed the House Tuesday and expressed her dissatisfaction over ongoing problems with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and mental health services provided to veterans.
The challenges facing our returning veterans are nothing new, but the average wait for a veteran to schedule an appointment with the VA is currently 67 days and that time is worse than the roughly 57-day wait in May.
That’s inexcusable and reprehensible.
Our veterans continue to receive inadequate treatment from the same federal government they swore an oath to defend.
A wait of 67 days is too long for the 413,618 Alabama veterans who have returned or are returning home to wait for treatment.
And to add further insult, the VA is blaming scheduling errors and labeling issues for leading to the problem. Addressing that excuse Roby said if “we haven’t figured out how to properly schedule patients at the VA, we have worse problems than I thought.”
The VA has had more than enough time to streamline the process or work out any kinks involving scheduling or labeling procedures.
Roby said, “we don’t need to do anything to exacerbate the problem by making it harder for veterans to get the treatment they need. That’s why this week the House is taking action to pass H.R. 5059 The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act.”
If passed, The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act would directly increase access to mental health care, improve access to mental health professionals, and hold both the Department of Defense and VA more accountable for their suicide-prevention efforts.
The representative also mentioned other options to help our veterans. Roby said she’d like “to see greater utilization of Patient Centered Community Care program, or PC3, which connects veteran patients with local doctors or specialists.”
We all owe the 300,000 veterans who meet criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the other 300,000 may have suffered a brain injury. We also owe the families of the estimated 22 veterans who commit suicide each day.
H.R. 5059 The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act is to be considered later this week. Let’s hope the rest of the House of Representatives is as committed to making sure our veterans get the care and treatment they deserve as Representative Roby.