WASHINGTON, D.C. – In February, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA IG) requesting an immediate and thorough investigation into the VA Central Iowa Health Care System’s mental health care programs, treatment provided to veteran Richard Miles, and Mr. Miles’ requests for mental health care and the subsequent treatment received. Today Senator Ernst received a briefing from the office of the VA IG on the report and issued the following statement:

“After months of waiting, the VA IG has finally released their report into the findings over their investigation of the VA Central Iowa Health Care System’s mental health care programs and care provided to Richard Miles.

“While I am still reviewing this report, the VA IG identified some of the areas that need to be  improved and it’s critical that the VA Central Iowa Health Care System implement those recommended changes. However, equally important is that  VA hospitals across the country take a look at what has happened in this case and implement necessary changes to their own programs. Specifically, in the instance of the VA Central Iowa Health Care System, the follow up and outreach to Mr. Miles simply was not sufficient. It is so important that veterans suffering from mental health issues receive the care and attention they deserve.

“Moreover, our country lacks mental health care professionals across the VA and we need to prioritize incentives to hire more mental health care professionals at the VA and provide our veterans private sector alternatives if they so choose. In addition, I remain concerned about excessive wait times overall. We absolutely can and must do better for our veterans. 

“I feel deeply for the loss of Richard Miles and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. I remain committed to ensuring that we can work to prevent this type of tragedy from happening in the future. It is our duty to ensure our veterans have access to the quality mental health care they deserve.”

Click here to read the report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s office.

Background

  • On February 23, 2015, Senator Ernst sent a letter to the VA IG requesting an examination of the VA Central Iowa Health Care System’s mental health programs. The inquiry follows recent news coverage of the death of veteran Richard Miles in Des Moines.
  • On March 4, 2015, the VA IG provided an update regarding Senator Ernst’s request for an examination of the VA Central Iowa Health Care System’s mental health programs. Senator Ernst’s inquiry followed news coverage of the death of veteran Richard Miles in Des Moines. The Veterans Affairs Inspector General’s office initiated a review of the mental health care provided to Richard Miles.
  • On June 3, 2015Senator Ernst highlighted the critical need for a permanent VA Inspector General. At a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Senator Ernst expressed her disappointment that she has yet to receive an update from the Veterans Affairs Inspector General’s office which said months ago that they initiated a review of the mental health care provided to Richard Miles, an Army and Iraq War veteran who committed suicide in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • On June 10, 2015Senator Ernst received the report from the office of the VA IG.
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