June 7-- U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today sent two letters to Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki demanding answers in response to the Inspector General (IG) report that describes egregious mismanagement at the Atlanta VA Medical Center (VAMC). The IG report linked three recent suicides to these deficiencies.
In their letters, Isakson, who is a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and Chambliss, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked the VA to follow up on reported problems with inpatient and contracted outpatient mental health care at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. The senators asked the VA to provide information on its progress to correct the problems identified by the IG report to ensure that veterans do not fall through cracks in the future. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, joined Isakson and Chambliss in sending the letters to Shinseki.
The senators wrote that the IG report is “troublesome due to the number of veterans experiencing mental health conditions, the number of veteran suicides, and the lack of access to mental health services at VA medical centers.” The senators expressed that they “are deeply concerned that veterans are not receiving quality mental health services.”
The senators also stated, “With estimates that 22 veterans commit suicide each day, it is vital that we address problems at all of the VA’s mental health facilities and their partners…The men and women who have bravely served our country deserve better care than what was described in the IG report related to mental health services provided by the Atlanta VAMC.”