Ernst demands better mental health care for Iowa vets

Joni Ernst -- CROPPEDFrom Press Release


More than three months after a report was released from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA OIG) following Senator Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) request for an investigation into the VA Central Iowa Health Care System’s mental health care programs and treatment provided to veteran Richard Miles, it remains unclear as to whether any of the recommended changes have been implemented. After the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) neglected to reply to an initial closed letter from Senator Ernst, she has now sent a follow up letter demanding answers about the needed changes for veterans across Iowa.

In the follow up letter, Senator Ernst wrote, “On June 24, 2015, I wrote a letter to you requesting that VHA expedite implementation of a number of VA OIG recommendations to improve the delivery of mental health care and case management services for our veterans.  Specifically, as recommended by VA OIG in Report Number 15-02627-386, I requested VHA expedite a determination of the feasibility of expanding recovery coordination activities to patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to improve case management services at VA and to hold Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors accountable for providing all levels of case management in accordance with VHA policy.”

Senator Ernst continued, “According to the October 1, 2014 – March 31, 2015 VA OIG Semiannual Report to Congress (SAR), there are a total of 1,162 unimplemented Office of Inspector General (OIG) recommendations which have been provided to the VA.  Disturbingly, more than 1,000 of these unimplemented OIG recommendations are with VHA. This is unacceptable.”

“…I remain concerned about the efforts VA has put forth to address the mental health of the men and women who so honorably served our country,” the Senator added. “…I once again urge you to act without delay on the VA OIG’s recommendations to improve services at VHA for our veterans.”

Read the full letter here.

Senator Ernst’s request comes in response to the untimely death of veteran Richard Miles from Des Moines, which prompted the Iowa Senator to call for an investigation into the VA Central Iowa Health Care System’s mental health care programs and the treatment sought and received by Mr. Miles. The VA OIG identified areas that need to be improved and those recommend changes must be implemented without further delay.