WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, issued the following statement today on a newly released congressionally-mandated national review of VA’s residential mental health care facilities, dedicating the effort to a young Iraq war veteran who died in a VA domiciliary facility while receiving care for PTSD and a substance abuse disorder:
“The tragic death of Justin Bailey after he came home from Iraq demonstrated the need for a national review of VA mental health care facilities. This report indicates what we and the Bailey family feared – some VA facilities still have not corrected the errors that may have contributed to his death, more than two years after his passing,” said Senator Akaka. “I am encouraged by the Administration’s full agreement with the report’s recommendations, and I stand ready to assist in implementing these needed changes.”
Akaka championed Public Law 110-387, the Veterans’ Mental Health and Other Care Improvements Act of 2008, a sweeping veterans’ mental health care bill which included a tribute to Bailey and required this national review.
The report, by VA’s Office of Inspector General, found the following based on a national survey and random review of 20 sample sites:
• Less than half of the sites visited had appropriate policies for screening patients to be admitted into the VA residential mental health facility programs,
• Post-discharge monitoring was not evident for nearly 3-out-of-10 residents based on residential patient records, and
• An estimated 11 percent of VA Self Medication Policy patients on narcotics received more than a 7-day supply of medication.
The IG made 10 recommendations based on the review, all of which were accepted by VA.
The full report, which includes a list of the locations and programs visited during the inspections, is available here.
July 9, 2009