After I clean up the mess from my head exploding, we'll look at some numbers.
Veterans not entitled to mental health care, U.S. lawyers argue
Veterans have no legal right to specific types of medical care, the Bush administration argues in a lawsuit accusing the government of illegally denying mental health treatment to some troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
A federal law providing five years of care for veterans from the date of their discharge establishes "veterans' eligibility for health care, but it does not create an entitlement to any particular medical service," government lawyers said.
In his Jan. 10 ruling that allowed the suit to proceed, Conti said federal law entitles veterans to health care for a specific period after leaving the service, rejecting the government's argument that it was required to provide only as much care as the VA's budget allowed in a given year. A law that President Bush signed last week extended the period from two to five years.
In its latest filing, however, the Justice Department reiterated that Congress had intended "to authorize, but not require, medical care for veterans."
"This court should not interfere with the political branches' design, oversight and modification of VA programs," the government lawyers argued.
"Nowhere do I see any explanation of what kind of systems they have in place that deal with suicidal veterans," [Erspamer, the plaintiffs' lawyer said]. "There's no excuse for not spending the money Congress told them to spend on mental health care and leaving $60 million on the table when people are going out and killing themselves."
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OK, here are the numbers, or lack thereof:
Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans
Beyond the individual loss, it turns out little information exists about how widespread suicides are among these who have served in the military. There have been some studies, but no one has ever counted the numbers nationwide.
"Nobody wants to tally it up in the form of a government total," Bowman said.
Why do the families think that is?
"Because they don't want the true numbers of casualties to really be known," Lucey said.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee.
"If you're just looking at the overall number of veterans themselves who've committed suicide, we have not been able to get the numbers,” Murray said.
According to Department of Defense (DoD) statistics, three to 12 months after deployment in combat, up to 17 per cent of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) servicemembers screen positive for PTSD, while some 19-21 per cent screen for PTSD, depression or anxiety.
For both OIF and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) combined, the high-end estimate for PTSD prevalence is 19.9 per cent according, to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2004.
More than one in three soldiers and Marines who have served in Iraq later sought help for mental health problems, according to a comprehensive snapshot by Army experts of the psyches of men and women returning from the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places.This is how bush supports our troops.
Researchers have found that nearly two-thirds of Iraq veterans who "screened positive" for PTSD and other psychiatric disorders are not receiving treatment.
Cross posted at VidiotSpeak