(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General released a report that she had requested on the time it takes the VA to complete mental health care appointments for our nation’s veterans. The report concludes, as Sen. Murray has repeatedly warned, that the wait times faced by many veterans far exceed that which the VA has previously reported and the time the VA mandates. Murray will hold a hearing on Wednesday, April 25th to seek answers to these problems. The VA Inspector General will testify at that hearing.
“This report confirms what we have long been hearing, that our veterans are waiting far too long to get the mental health care they so desperately need. It is deeply disturbing and demands action from the VA. This report shows the huge gulf between the time VA says it takes to get veterans mental health care and the reality of how long it actually takes veterans to get seen at facilities across the country.
“Getting our veterans timely mental health care can quite frankly often be the difference between life and death. It’s the critical period, not unlike the “golden hour” immediately after a traumatic physical injury. Yet, this report clearly shows that the VA is failing to meet their own mandates for timeliness. Clearly the VA scheduling system needs a major overhaul. The VA also needs to get serious about hiring new mental health professionals in every corner of the country.
“What’s particularly disappointing is that this report shows that the VA is failing many of those who have been brave enough to seek care. It is hard enough to get veterans into the VA system to receive mental health care. Once a veteran takes the step to reach out for help we need to knock down every potential barrier to care. Providing timely mental health care is a cost of the decade-long wars our veterans have fought and it is a cost that Congress and the American people are willing to meet.”