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Murray Hears Heartbreaking Stories of VA Mental Health Care Failures at Senate Hearing

Apr 25 2007

Veterans' Affairs Committee explores suicide, PTSD, military sexual trauma, and substance abuse

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(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) took part in a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee oversight hearing on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mental health care programs. The hearing focused on suicide, PTSD, military sexual trauma, and substance abuse. The parents of two service members who say the VA's mental health care system failed their children provided emotional testimony on their children's tragic deaths after returning from Iraq.

"No apology or excuse can make up for what you have endured," Senator Murray told the parents of the service members following their testimony. "One of my deepest concerns is that the men and women who have separated from the service, who have gone home and feel like nobody knows what's going on in there head are not getting the help they need. Your words today have made a difference. For us and for the policies we need to put in place, but also hopefully for some service members out there who hear you as well."

The witnesses included the parents of Army Specialist Joshua L. Omvig, who committed suicide 11 months after returning from Iraq, the parents of Justin Bailey, a marine who died of a drug overdose in a VA facility where he was seeking treatment for PTSD, and a combat medic who has personally struggled with PTSD. In addition, a psychiatrist who counsels veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma testified on the sexual trauma veterans have endured.

Senator Murray concluded her questioning by repeating what she recently heard from a returning Iraq veteran.

"I heard loud and clear what one soldier said to me recently," Murray said. "'They trained me to go to war they never trained me on how to come home'. Well, I think we seriously have to look to train these men and women to come home."