Military Families Sue VA Over Suicides

Agency doesn't do enough for veterans' mental health, suit says
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2008 11:45 AM CDT
A member of a military honor guard stands near a flag-draped coffin in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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(Newser) – Veterans Affairs hasn’t done enough to stem the “rising tide” of suicides and mental health problems, according to a class action lawsuit going to trial this week. Roughly 20% of deployed US troops are suffering from mental illness, a recent study shows, and an average of 18 kill themselves each day. “The VA has simply not devoted enough resources,” said one plaintiff lawyer. “They don’t have enough psychiatrists.”

Two veterans’ groups filed the suit, which asks a judge to mandate a system overhaul. The VA says the court doesn’t have the power to do that, and says it’s already working on the issue, having hired more than 3,700 mental-health professionals in recent years. The VA has lately been assailed with claims, thanks to an aging veteran population.