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VA Draws Heat From Hill on PTSD

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by anthony, Sep 28, 2006.

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  1. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    House lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are upset because the Department of Veterans Affairs has not spent the entire $300 million it vowed to devote to post-traumatic stress syndrome among combat troops.

    But they’re upset for different reasons. Democrats are unhappy that the VA is not spending what was promised, and believe veterans are being hurt in the process.

    Republicans also are not happy that PTSD funding isn’t going where it was promised, but see this is an example of the VA’s inability to spend all the money it is given — which they say supports their recent efforts to hold down the size of the VA budget.

    The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, says in a report issued today that the VA spent less than half of a promised $100 million in 2005 on PTSD and $158 million of a promised $200 million in 2006.

    True spending on PTSD programs might be even less, the report says, because money released to VA medical facilities has not necessarily been spent, and even if spent may have gone to other purposes.

    GAO officials expect to issue a full report later this year with more details on what happened to the money.

    “The administration is far short of fulfilling its commitments,” said Rep. Michael Michaud of Maine, ranking Democrat on the house Veterans’ Affairs health subcommittee. “Clearly, our oversight of the VA’s implementation and delivery of mental health services will have to be more vigorous.”

    Michaud said that contrary to the Bush administration’s claims, the GAO’s preliminary findings “reveal that … there is no accountability for spending the resources required to fulfill VA’s own mental health plan and to address the mental health care needs of veterans.”

    “The administration has critically shortchanged veterans by failing to spend needed funds to address gaps in access and quality of mental health care, instead offering false claims that VA is ready and able to provide these services,” Michaud said.

    Rep. Henry Brown, R-S.C., the subcommittee chairman, agreed that Congress needs to take a closer look.

    “Veterans expect that wounds suffered in service, be they to mind or body, will be cared for by the nation they served,” Brown said. “While the quality of veterans’ health care has come far, I find disappointing today’s GAO statement that VA last year used less than the full $100 million Congress allocated for mental health. When our young men and women serve their nation, they give their all; Congress expects that those entrusted to care for them do the same.”

    Brown vowed to exercise “greater oversight” to determine what VA is spending and how it is being spent.

    Source: Navy Times
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