By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Tuesday May 8, 2012
There were no apologies Tuesday from Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to veterans who struggle to get mental health appointments, only a promise that VA will hire additional staff as quickly as possible and a warning that the need for treatment is likely to grow.
Shinseki testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee in response to a two-week-old VA inspector general report that found less than 50 percent of veterans seeking help received an initial evaluation within 14 days, which is the VA’s stated goal.
VA had been reporting that 95 percent of first-time patients were receiving a mental health evaluation within 14 days, but the IG found this was not accurate.
Shinseki did not dispute the findings, but said the mental health and well-being of veterans “is the highest priority for me, our department and our nation” and insisted VA has been expanding its ability to help.
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