The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee heard testimony Wednesday about the poor condition of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) suicide support system. Daniel Hanson, a Marine deployed to Iraq, sought help from the VA following his brother’s suicide. Testifying before the Senate Committee, Hanson called the VA’s suicide prevention program “not beneficial” and offered suggestions as to how it could be improved.
Hanson completed an outpatient program at the St. Cloud, Minnesota VA medical center, attempted suicide a month later, and was held for 72-hour observation in a psychiatric ward. Following his discharge, Hanson said there was almost no follow up from the clinic.
Hanson classified the VA system as uncaring and devoid of any accountability. The VA staff never followed up on missed appointments or even after losing contact with patients. Hanson said he felt like he was just along for the ride as he was processed through the clinic speaking with doctors.
According to Hanson, the problem is the lack of long-term treatment available through the VA. A program lasting a couple of months is not going to undue years of behavior and thought processes. This idea was supported by Dr. Rudd, Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science at the University of Utah and Scientific Director of the university’s national Center for Veterans Studies.
Rudd also suggested the VA expand their mental health services to college campuses to reach the soaring number of veteran students. Student veterans are some of the most reluctant to actively seek mental health care. The initial care is not enough though, proper aftercare is necessary to help veterans readjust, especially those suffering from PTSD.
While the committee says they are considering all options, the numbers don’t lie. On average, 18 veterans kill themselves every day.
Learn more about better VA care for suicidal veterans.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.