Military suicides are at their highest levels in more than a decade, with an average of one suicide occurring every day so far this year. The subject dominated the discussion at a joint House committee hearing with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta & Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki. Lawmakers said the Defense & Veterans Affairs Departments are taking too long to combine their systems for tracking veterans returning to civilian life.
In this joint hearing of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, members spotlighted veterans' healthcare issues, particularly as the military plans to cut 100,000 soldiers over the next five years and complete troop draw downs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced it was hiring 1,900 mental health workers to help address delays in veterans receiving care. But a recent Government Accountability Office report said the VA was exaggerating how quickly it saw mental health patients.