Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 67° Partly Cloudy
News >  Nation/World

Congressman accuses VA of ‘noncompliance’

Requests for information include veteran suicide prevention efforts

Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A key House member asked Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to explain an apparent “emerging pattern of agency noncompliance” with congressional requests for information about veteran suicide and other issues. Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., canceled a hearing on suicide prevention efforts, which was scheduled for Wednesday, saying he was upset about the witnesses the agency wanted to send. Mitchell is chairman of the House subcommittee with oversight over the VA. Mitchell said in a letter to Shinseki, dated Friday and released this week, that he’s heard complaints from other members of Congress about requests for information going unanswered or taking too long. “Our subcommittee has an obligation, on behalf of the nation’s veterans, to examine the VA’s efforts to address the problem,” Mitchell said. “We cannot, however, conduct our work without access to appropriate witnesses and appropriate information from the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Katie Roberts, a VA spokeswoman, said in a statement Tuesday the VA takes seriously its responsibility to provide Congress with information. She said the VA offered to make Janet Kemp, the VA’s national suicide prevention coordinator, available for the hearing. “We have had a very positive relationship with Congress,” Roberts said. Suicides among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been a lingering problem. Last year, the Army saw a record number. Available data through 2007 shows a higher rate of suicide among those who served in the recent conflicts and left the military, compared to the general population. To combat the problem, the VA hired thousands of new suicide prevention coordinators and created a suicide prevention hot line.
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.