News Releases

Senator Murray Applauds VA's Reversal on PTSD Investigation

Nov 10 2005

Pre-Veterans' Day Announcement Will Help Reduce Scrutiny & Stigma of Veterans

(Washington, D.C.) – Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it heeded Senator Murray's request to cancel a review of 72,000 veterans who currently receive disability benefits for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Since September, Senator Murray has been working with Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Barack Obama (D-IL) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) to block a planned VA investigation that would have subjected 72,000 veterans to scrutiny, stigma and a possible loss of benefits. At a Veterans Affairs Committee hearing this afternoon, Senator Murray personally thanked VA Secretary Jim Nicholson for the decision.

"I'm thrilled that today the VA has agreed that veterans who are facing mental health challenges deserve our support, and not our scrutiny," Senator Murray said. "I hope this reversal encourages more veterans to reach out for the care they need. As we celebrate Veterans' Day, Congress still has a lot more work to do to keep our promise to those who have served. This is a good step forward, and now I hope that we can give veterans more good news by providing the healthcare they deserve."

On September 22nd, Senator Murray inserted language into the FY 2006 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill. Murray's language says the review cannot proceed until the VA justifies the program to Congress. It also ensures veterans cannot be stripped of their benefits except in cases of fraud. Details:

At a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on October 27th, Senator Murray again discussed her opposition to the review and cited news reports which indicated that a New Mexico veteran committed suicide after receiving a letter from the VA that his disability benefits would be investigated.

Earlier this year, the VA announced plans to investigate the PTSD disability claims of 72,000 veterans. An earlier study of a small number of cases by the VA's Inspector General found errors in about one-third of the claims examined. Many of the problems uncovered were paperwork errors. Senator Murray and veterans organizations like the American Legion and the Paralyzed Veterans of America feared the VA would use the review to strip benefits from veterans with mental illness. The review would also have take time and resources away from processing current disability claims.

In other veterans' developments, today Senator Murray spoke on the Senate floor and at a press conference. Yesterday, six national veterans' organizations joined with Senator Murray to call for adequate VA healthcare funding.

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