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Jules D. "J.D" Spindler
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Posted at 02:25 PM on Friday, December 14, 2007 by post8455
In This Issue:
1. House VA Committee Hearings
2. SVAC Approves Peake Nomination
3. FY 2008 NDAA
1. House VA Committee Hearings: The House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing Wednesday on suicide and mental health issues facing veterans. VFW-supported legislation, The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill, which was recently signed into law, is already being implemented. VA announced it has made suicide prevention a priority and has developed a program based on increasing suicide awareness, prevention, and training to improve the recognition of suicide risk by its healthcare staff. Congress authorized a national suicide prevention hotline and suicide prevention coordinators program has been put in place in each VA medical center. Witnesses believed that these efforts are a good first step, but more must be done with regard to research on TBI and PTSD, as well as substance abuse which often leads to homelessness. The Committee plans to hold further hearings in the next session on this subject.
• Also on Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation held a hearing to examine outpatient waiting times within VA Medical Centers. Several witnesses were on hand to discuss VHA performance in scheduling outpatient medical appointments. According to a recent audit by the Inspector General, the goal for scheduling outpatient appointments is defined as the earliest date that the patient or clinician specifies the patient needs to be seen. In addition, VHA policy established a goal of scheduling appointments within 30 days of the desired appointment but not more than four months later. The IG found that the methodology in reporting wait times was inconsistent among many of the medical centers, and that there is sufficient evidence to support that only about 75% of veterans had been seen within 30 days of the requested appointment date. Subcommittee Chairman Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) said "When our veterans' encounter long waiting times, their conditions go undiagnosed and serious disease go untreated. Until we have a clearer picture about waiting times, the VA can't improve the situation because we can't identify problem facilities or effectively allocate resources.
For more information on either hearing visit the House VA website at: http://veterans.house.gov/