Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Guest post by Kay Olson: Veterans sue U.S. government

On Monday, two veterans' organizations filed a nationwide class-action suit against the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) for failure to help thousands of post-9/11 war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
... Of the 1,400 VA hospitals and clinics scattered across the United States, only 27 have inpatient programmes for PTSD. This despite the fact that an estimated 38 percent of soldiers and 50 percent of National Guard who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan report mental health issues ranging from post-combat stress to brain injuries.

The VA also has a backlog of over 600,000 disability claims, and the average Iraq war veteran who files for disability must wait six months for an answer. If he or she files an appeal, it could take up to three years.
In the late '80s, I recall that homeless men in American cities were so often mentally ill Vietnam vets that it was practically an urban cliché. It seems we're heading down that same road again:
In their lawsuit, the veterans groups ask the federal courts to force the VA to clear the backlog of disability claims and make sure returning veterans receive immediate medical and psychological help. They also want the judge to force the VA to screen all vets returning from combat to identify those at greatest risk for PTSD and suicide.

An estimated 400,000 veterans sleep homeless on the streets of the United States. The VA estimates 1,000 former servicemembers under its care commit suicide every year.

Cross-posted at The Gimp Parade