SCHUMER CALLS FOR VA COMMUNICATION OVERHAUL SO THAT 43 UPSTATE VA SITES CAN COORDINATE WITH POLICE, ENSURE VETS GET THE HELP THEY NEED TO AVOID HURTING THEMSELVES & OTHERS - INEFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN VA & OTHERS ALLOWED NAVY YARD SHOOTER TO GO WITHOUT MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT, EVEN AFTER WARNING SIGNS
In August, Aaron Alexis Told R.I. Police He Was Hearing Voices - Police Told Local Naval Officials, But Info Never Made It To VA; Communication Gap Meant No Mental Help Was Offered
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to vigorously review their mental health protocols, and related communications procedures, in the wake of the Washington D.C. Navy Yard shooting. Aaron Alexis, the perpetrator of the Navy Yard shootings, was a Navy reservist and later became an information technology contractor with the Navy. Despite having told police he was hearing voices, Alexis never sought an appointment from a mental health specialist. Alexis also went to two different VA Medical Center emergency rooms and was released after being prescribed medication to treat insomnia. Schumer today said that Alexis fell through the cracks at the VA and clearly should have been treated by mental health professionals. Schumer wants to ensure that veterans in Upstate New York that have demonstrated violent inclinations towards themselves or others, or those that demonstrate signs of mental health conditions to law enforcement, can get the mental health treatment they need at local veterans' facilities. Schumer is a) urging the VA to thoroughly review their mental health practices for veterans and b) will specifically recommend the agency set up a Joint Emergency Psychiatric Response Center that would work with the Department of Defense, local and state law enforcement and existing mental health systems to identify at-risk veterans. This national response center would be open 24-hours a day, and would help ensure that law enforcement can easily identify vets that need help to the 8 VA Medical Centers and 35 community-based outpatient clinics in Upstate New York.
Schumer provided a list of VA medical centers in Upstate New York that could better coordinate and share information with each other and with local law enforcement via this national, 24-hour response center in order to better serve local veterans, particularly those that demonstrate warning signs of mental illness or an intention to harm themselves or others. VA Medical Centers (8): Buffalo, Canandaigua, Bath, Syracuse, Albany, Batavia, Montrose and Castle Point. Community-based outpatient clinics (35): Jamestown, Dunkirk, Lackawanna, Niagara Falls, Lockport, Springville, Olean, Wellsville, Rochester, Auburn, Elmira, Binghamton, Bainbridge, Tompkins/Cortland, Oswego, Schenectady, Rome, Fonda, Troy, Clifton Park, Glens Falls, Westport, Saranac Lake, Watertown, Plattsburgh, Malone, Massena, Catskill, Kingston, Monticello, Carmel, Pine Plains, Poughkeepsie, White Plains, and Yonkers.