Momentum Grows in Congress to Fire VA’s Dr. Ira Katz for Concealing Veteran Suicide Epidemic

Las Cruces Sun-News (New Mexico)

May 1, 2008, Albuquerque, NM – Rep. Tom Udall has joined other Democrats calling for the resignation of the Department of Veterans Affairs mental health director in a letter to President Bush on Thursday.
The New Mexico Democrat also said that Bush and VA Secretary James Peake should get to the bottom of problems highlighted in a Veterans Affairs inspector general’s report released Thursday.

The report showed many Iraq war veterans with traumatic brain injuries are not getting adequate health care nor job assistance for their long-term recovery.

Udall, who serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said Bush and Peake should immediately demand the resignation of Dr. Ira Katz, the head of mental health at the VA. Katz is accused of withholding information from Congress concerning the rising number of suicides and suicide attempts by veterans.

“The action by Dr. Katz to cover up this information and to present a false picture of the situation seriously jeopardized our government’s ability to deliver quality care to America’s veterans,” Udall said.

The release of e-mails between Katz and other VA officials showed that there have been about 12,000 suicide attempts by veterans per year, but the doctor and others were apparently trying to cover up the facts.

Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, called for Katz’s dismissal last week.

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