Sign the Petition to

US Department of Veterans Affairs

Our veterans deserve the best possible services to help them recover from mental health illnesses. However, your own Inspector General revealed that you have been misrepresenting the wait times that veterans have in between appointments, with only 50% falling within the 14-day period you claim to achieve. Some veterans are facing struggles so severe, they are at risk of taking their own lives. This nation can't afford to lose our heroes because the V.A. is incapable of improving their system for getting veterans follow-up appointments.

Therefore, we ask that its leadership be held accountable, with termination as the consequence for any employee who records misleading data. The agency should also commit to more engaged programs for reaching veterans suffering from mental health issues. It should build public awareness to reduce the stigmas attached to mental illness, run suicide prevention hotlines and develop alternative therapy programs that rely on interpersonal relationships and goal-setting.

Most importantly, the V.A. must adopt a culture that commits to responding to the mental health needs of veterans now, not in a few months.

Signed,

Jessica Dahl

This petition closed almost 2 years ago

How this will help

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) claims it tries to to complete full mental health evaluations within 14 days of an initial screening; a recent review shows the contrary. The...

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) claims it tries to to complete full mental health evaluations within 14 days of an initial screening; a recent review shows the contrary. The Department’s Inspector General discovered a misrepresentation of scheduling information in the V.A.’s computer system.

The schedulers would label the next available appointment as the patient’s desired appointment date. In many cases, the next available appointment required vets to wait longer periods of time than they wanted. But by labeling it as the desired appointment, it appeared in the system that vets didn’t need to wait. As a result, the agency was wrongly claiming that the two-week target was being reached in 95% of cases, when the real rate was 49%, with most waiting an average of 50 days for a follow-up appointment. Furthermore, this isn’t a new problem. The inspector general found the same mismanagement and disregard for punctual appointment follow-up in 2005 and 2007.

Perhaps worse is the perception the V.A. has among returning veterans. Word-of-mouth from those who have received poor care or been ignored has made its way around the military. Some had gone to the V.A. because they had suicidal thoughts, only to receive a screening and a prescription for anti-depressants -- and a follow-up appointment for several months later. Disheartened by such stories, many vets have opted out of accessing any care from the V.A.

Despite its shortcomings, the V.A. is sometimes the only place veterans can receive mental health care. In one step in the right direction, the V.A. committed last month to increasing its mental health staff by 10%. The increase is meant to address the increasingly frustrating delays veterans face in getting appointments. Although this is a step in the right direction, many veterans, often waging their own emotional battles to resume normal life, say it’s too little, too late.

The V.A. needs to be doing more to regain the trust of veterans. Its leadership must be held accountable, with termination as the consequence for any employee who records misleading data. The agency should also commit to more engaged programs for reaching veterans suffering from mental health issues. It should build public awareness to reduce the stigmas attached to mental illness, run suicide prevention hotlines and develop alternative therapy programs that rely on interpersonal relationships and goal-setting.

Most importantly, the V.A. must adopt a culture that commits to responding to the mental health needs of veterans now, not in a few months.

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