DOJ says no to Mental Health care for vets

Discussion in 'VMBB General Discussion' started by berto64, Feb 9, 2008.

  1. berto64

    berto64 Active Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Owyhee County, Idaho
    Veterans not entitled to mental health care, U.S. lawyers argue
    Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer <>
    Tuesday, February 5, 2008

    Veterans have no legal right to specific types of medical care,
    the Bush administration argues in a lawsuit accusing the government of
    illegally denying mental health treatment to some troops returning from
    Iraq and Afghanistan.
    The arguments, filed Wednesday in federal court in San
    Francisco, strike at the heart of a lawsuit filed on behalf of veterans
    that claims the health care system for returning troops provides little
    recourse when the government rejects their medical claims.
    The Department of Veterans Affairs is making progress in
    increasing its staffing and screening veterans for combat-related
    stress, Justice Department lawyers said. But their central argument is
    that Congress left decisions about who should get health care, and what
    type of care, to the VA and not to veterans or the courts.
    A federal law providing five years of care for veterans from the
    date of their discharge establishes "veterans' eligibility for health
    care, but it does not create an entitlement to any particular medical
    service," government lawyers said.
    They said the law entitles veterans only to "medical care which
    the secretary (of Veterans Affairs) determines is needed, and only to
    the extent funds ... are available."
    The argument drew a sharp retort from a lawyer for advocacy
    groups that sued the government in July. The suit is a proposed class
    action on behalf of 320,000 to 800,000 veterans or their survivors.
    "Veterans need to know in this country that the government
    thinks all their benefits are mere gratuities," attorney Gordon Erspamer
    said. "They're saying it's completely discretionary, that even if
    Congress appropriates money for veterans' health care, we can do
    anything we want with it."
    The issue will be joined March 7 at a hearing before U.S.
    District Judge Samuel Conti, who denied the administration's request
    last month to dismiss the suit. While the case is pending, the
    plaintiffs want Conti to order the government to provide immediate
    mental health treatment for veterans who say they are thinking of
    killing themselves and to spend another $60 million on health care.
    The suit accuses the VA of arbitrarily denying care and benefits
    to wounded veterans, of forcing them to wait months for treatment and
    years for benefits, and of failing to provide fair procedures for
    appealing decisions against them.
    The plaintiffs say that the department has a backlog of more
    than 600,000 disability claims and that 120 veterans a week commit
    In his Jan. 10 ruling that allowed the suit to proceed, Conti
    said federal law entitles veterans to health care for a specific period
    after leaving the service, rejecting the government's argument that it
    was required to provide only as much care as the VA's budget allowed in
    a given year. A law that President Bush signed last week extended the
    period from two to five years.
    In its latest filing, however, the Justice Department reiterated
    that Congress had intended "to authorize, but not require, medical care
    for veterans."
    "This court should not interfere with the political branches'
    design, oversight and modification of VA programs," the government
    lawyers argued.
    They also said the VA "is making great progress in addressing
    the mental health care needs of combat veterans." Among other things,
    they cited a law passed in November that required the department to
    establish a suicide-prevention program that includes making mental
    health care available around the clock.
    The VA has hired nearly 3,800 mental health professionals in the
    last two years and has at least one specialist in post-traumatic stress
    disorder at each of its medical centers, the government said.
    Since June, government lawyers said, the VA has had a policy
    that all veterans who seek or are referred for mental health care should
    be screened within 24 hours, that those found to be at risk of suicide
    should be treated immediately, and that others should be scheduled for
    full diagnosis and treatment planning within two weeks. A new
    suicide-prevention hot line has been responsible for "more than 380
    rescues," the lawyers said.
    Erspamer, the plaintiffs' lawyer, was unimpressed.
    "Nowhere do I see any explanation of what kind of systems they
    have in place that deal with suicidal veterans," he said. "There's no
    excuse for not spending the money Congress told them to spend on mental
    health care and leaving $60 million on the table when people are going
    out and killing themselves."
    E-mail Bob Egelko at
    This article appeared on page A - 8 of the San Francisco
    San Francisco Chronicle Sections DatebookCommentarySportsBay
    (c) 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.
  2. Rommelvon

    Rommelvon New Member

    Aug 6, 2006
    Goldsboro, NC
    This really pisses me off, A soldier serves his/her country, comes home and has some issues, be it PTSD, Depression etc.....and our Government refuses to give them help...what the hell is our country coming to when our Government says to hell with it's protectors?:mad:

  3. berto64

    berto64 Active Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Owyhee County, Idaho
    That's why I posted this here. I was so p****d off that I didn't dare try to express myself on this.
  4. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff* Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Glendale Arizona
    Berto, may I suggest you send this information to Bill O'Reilly....Bill's in a big
    flap with the statement one of the politicians made about homeless GI's sleeping under bridges and not being treated. Chief
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