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Old 04-13-2019, 05:57 AM
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Exclamation Three Veterans in five days die by suicide at VA facilities

Three Veterans in five days die by suicide at VA facilities
By: NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES / April 12, 2019
RE: https://www.stripes.com/news/us/thre...ities-1.576761

WASHINGTON — Three suicides occurred during a five-day period on Department of Veterans Affairs properties, prompting reaction this week from Capitol Hill.

Two veterans died by suicide in Georgia, one April 5 at a parking garage at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin and the other April 6 outside the main entrance to the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

On Tuesday, a veteran shot himself in the waiting room at a VA clinic in Austin, Texas, according to KWCX-TV.

“Those deaths did not go by me without noticing them, nor has it gone by me that we have a job to do,” Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said Wednesday during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing.

Though it wasn’t the intended subject of the hearing, multiple senators asked VA officials on Wednesday about the recent suicides.

Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, said there have been more than 260 suicide attempts on VA property, 240 of which were interrupted and prevented. He didn’t specify a time period for the attempts.

According to a Washington Post report, 19 suicides occurred on VA property between October 2017 and November 2018.

“Every one of these is a gut-wrenching experience for our 24,000 mental health providers and all of us that work for VA,” Stone said.

In response to reports of the three suicides, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said he would schedule a hearing on the issue later this month.

“Every new instance of veteran suicide showcases a barrier to access, but with three incidents on VA property in just five days, and six this year alone, it’s critical we do more to stop this epidemic,” Takano said in a statement. “I have called for a full committee hearing… to hear from VA about the recent tragedies and spark a larger discussion about what actions we can take together as a nation.”

According to the latest VA data, 20 veterans die by suicide every day. Of those deaths, 14 are not receiving VA health care.

Suicide among veterans continues to be higher than the rest of the population, and younger veterans are particularly at risk. VA data released in September showed the rate of suicide among veterans ages 18 to 34 had significantly increased.

The VA hasn’t identified the veterans who died by suicide in Georgia, nor described the circumstances of the deaths. In Austin, a still-unidentified veteran shot himself in front of hundreds of people in the waiting room, KWTX reported. Weapons are prohibited in VA clinics, but the Austin facility didn’t have metal detectors.

Stone told senators Wednesday that veteran suicide was a societal problem that needed a nationwide approach. He noted an executive order that President Donald Trump signed in March creating a Cabinet-level task force that he promised would “mobilize every level of American society” to address veteran suicide. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie was selected to lead it.

“I wish it was as simple as me saying I could do more patrols in a parking lot that would stop this epidemic,” Stone said. “Where we as a community and society have failed that veteran is a very complex answer.”
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O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"IN GOD WE TRUST"
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Old 04-13-2019, 06:05 AM
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Unhappy Vet gets his foot cut off because VA made administrative errors

Vet gets his foot cut off because VA made administrative errors
By: Leo Shane III - Military Times 4-11-19
RE: https://www.militarytimes.com/news/p...lose-his-foot/

Photo link: https://www.armytimes.com/resizer/BH...5KGRKARI3M.jpg
The Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center in Indianapolis is seen in 2014. A new report says administrative mistakes there in 2017 jeopardized the health of numerous veterans, forcing one to have his foot amputated. (Darron Cummings/AP)

Administrative errors at an Indianapolis Veterans Affairs health center jeopardized the health of numerous patients and forced at least one to lose his foot to a medical amputation, federal investigators announced on Wednesday.

Advocates worry the incidents, which took place two years ago, are indicative of lingering systemic communications problems at the federal bureaucracy. They’re calling for VA leaders to take a closer look at internal communication and oversight protocols.

“Too many veterans have lost their limbs on the battlefield. They should not be losing limbs due to bureaucratic malpractice,” American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad said in a statement released Thursday morning.

Officials from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said the mistakes — brought to light by VA whistleblowers — have prompted a series of reforms at the local VA facility and to the larger regional network. But the mistakes did not result in the firing of any officials; one social work assistant chief was reassigned, and a senior chief retired in lieu of reprimand, officials said.

At issue was a decision by VA officials to have social workers stop recording home health care consults into a VA’s patient record system. The move was made due to concerns that the work was outside the responsibilities of the staffers.

But as a result, department officials acknowledged, “this decision led to a system breakdown, as the transition was not implemented with key services in a collaborative and cohesive manner.”

Follow-up visits to veterans after major surgeries and other periodic home check-ups ended up delayed or dropped altogether.

Investigators found in one case, a veteran who had been discharged from the Indianapolis hospital after a diabetes treatment was left to change the dressings on his foot wound himself for several days, even though VA staffers were supposed to do that.

“[His] worsening infection … and subsequent amputation appears to have been related to the delay of the dressing changes by the home care agency,” their report states.

VA investigators completed their report on the issue last summer, but the Office of Special Counsel released their report on problems this week. VA officials said they have updated procedures to allow social workers once again to update information into the patient record system, and trained staff on the proper procedures.

In a letter to the special counsel, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie acknowledged the mistakes constitute “gross mismanagement” by staffers but said the corrective actions should prevent future problems.

In a letter to the White House, Special Counsel Henry Kerner acknowledged those changes but stated that “I am nonetheless distressed that such a situation occurred in the first place.”

Reistad echoed that concern. He praised the whistleblowers who exposed the problems and said VA officials need to do a better job to “identify critical needs and share best practices” within the system.

About the writer: Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies.
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Boats

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"IN GOD WE TRUST"
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