VA Mental Health, Homeless, Drug Treatment Programs

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VA Mental Health, Homeless, Drug Treatment Programs


(EXCERPT) WASHINGTON, D.C. - Chairman Jerry Moran (R-KS) and the VA

Subcommittee on Health examined Wednesday charges the VA still has not

solved the problem of homeless veterans and was only paying "lip

service" to its mental health and drug treatment programs.


While hearing testimony from 14 witnesses about a decade of federal

efforts, Moran declared his intention to have the Subcommittee play a

greater oversight role in homeless, mental health, and drug addiction

programs for veterans.


"It's this Subcommittee's responsibility to be concerned about VA

resources and capacity to provide specialized programs for veterans,"

Moran said, "especially veterans suffering from severe mental

illnesses, as well as veterans with drug addictions. We are concerned

about VA programs for homeless veterans, including the mentally ill."


Public Law 104-262 requires VA to maintain capacity for specialized

treatment and rehabilitative needs nationwide for veterans, including

those with severe, chronic, disabling mental illnesses, including

schizophrenia, PTSD and drug addiction. Moran scheduled the hearing to

examine these programs and VA's compliance with the law.


"Let me assure you, we are not seeking lip service, but clear and

factual information to help the Subcommittee be a better steward of

veterans' programs on behalf of the American people," Moran said. It's

the least we can do, and veterans deserve more."


"Changes VA has made in recent years to reform itself have left

unattended some needs of its most vulnerable patients, the mentally

ill and homeless," Moran said, "Today's testimony indicates that

problems and challenges exist in VA's mental health programs. The loss

of hospital beds is only one part of the dilemma."


Moran said additional funding was needed to address the problem areas.

Dr. Thomas Garthwaite, VA's top health official, admitted that

problems remained in VA's mental health system, and that some reforms

may have gone too far.


Moran expressed his willingness to work with VA Committee Democrats to

craft a bill that could both pass Congress and strengthen VA' s hand

in dealing with homeless veterans. He also declared a commitment to

monitor closely VA's efforts to improve mental health programs.






"When the way comes to an end, then change - having changed, you pass through."

      I. Ching


 Bruce "Doc". Melson