WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who is a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, on Tuesday formally requested that Senate VA Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders, D-Vt., and Ranking Member Richard Burr, R-N.C., hold a field hearing in Atlanta in August.
Isakson requested the field hearing in wake of the April 2013 reports from the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General detailing mismanagement of inpatient and contracted outpatient mental health programs at the Atlanta VA Medical Center that led to three veteran suicides.
“It is imperative that the Committee follows up with the VA in a public forum to address the problems at the Atlanta VA Medical Center and any progress the VA has made in improving the mental health care provided in all of their facilities,” said Isakson. “We must ensure that veterans receive high-quality health care, including comprehensive mental health care, and make certain that veterans do not fall through the cracks when they seek the care they have earned and deserve. I believe we can have a constructive dialogue in Atlanta, and that we can learn from these incidents to make sure they are not happening elsewhere in the VA system.”
Isakson suggested that the Committee invite officials from the VA Central Office, the Office of the Inspector General, the Southeast Network, the Atlanta VAMC, as well as private-sector and community mental health care providers. He also requested that senators and staff have the opportunity to tour the Atlanta VAMC and the mental health unit that was the focus of the IG report.
Last week, Isakson and Sen. Chambliss, R-Ga., sent two letters to Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki demanding answers in response to the Inspector General reports that describe egregious mismanagement at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.