News Releases

(Washington D.C.)- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) reacted to another disturbing report that shows that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is not doing an adequate job meeting the needs of America's veterans. The report, released yesterday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), shows how the VA has been too slow to spend the money Congress gave it for mental health care. The report also found that the VA had no system in place to track spending on mental health care, and that some money that was intended for mental health initiatives may have gone elsewhere. The report comes just ten weeks after an earlier GAO report revealed the VA failed to budget accurately over the past two years (). Senator Murray, who has worked for increases in mental health funding in the Senate, issued the following statement:



"This report is yet another example of how the VA is shortchanging America's veterans. At a time when our country's men and women are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with disturbingly high incidences of PTSD and other mental health conditions, the VA has again shown it is unprepared to meet the needs of today's veterans and those who will come home tomorrow.



"Over the past several years I have fought tooth and nail with the VA to increase health care funding. I have had to fight for more funding because the VA has failed to recognize the coming responsibility they will face as our troops return home. Unfortunately, because the VA has not accurately portrayed its needs to Congress, mental health care has continued to be under-funded, and veterans have continued to struggle to access the mental health care they need.



"Now, to find out that the VA is not even spending what little funding has been approved is simply appalling. It seems that not only is the VA unaware of the full scope of the coming problem, but it is also unable to spend sufficiently on the current one.



"This report reinforces the need for the VA to present a real plan for how they intend to care for the thousands of new veterans returning home with mental health needs. The VA plan must address the need to increase spending to meet demand, the need to fully disperse current funding, and the need to ensure that mental health funding is being spent on mental health initiatives.



"I have spent a lot of time in my home state talking with veterans about the VA's effort to support their mental health needs. These men and women deserve better from the VA. They deserve to see the funding that Congress authorizes for their needs is actually spent by the Administration. They deserve a VA that monitors and accounts for that funding so that their needs are met. Ultimately, they deserve a VA that is able to provide the mental health services they need.



"Mental health among our nation's veterans is a real problem that demands real solutions from the VA. It is time for the VA to present Congress with a real plan that includes the funding necessary to meet the great needs veterans face."



Read the full GAO report