Wednesday, April 23, 2008

San Francisco Chronicle reports, NYT plays dumb

Former soldiers are killing themselves at three to seven times the rate of the general population and the Department of Veterans Affairs is failing to diagnose or treat them effectively, a suicide expert testified Tuesday in a lawsuit challenging the VA's mental health system.
Department personnel aren't asking enough questions to determine whether veterans are suicidal, aren't sharing information about suicide risks with the VA's network of hospitals and clinics and aren't implementing their own plans to improve the system, Ronald Maris, a University of South Carolina sociology professor, told U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti in San Francisco.
A majority of the VA's counselors, doctors, social workers and psychologists "don't have the tools and the information that they need to intervene effectively with suicidal vets," said Maris, a former president of the American Association of Suicidology who has been a consultant to the Army on suicide prevention.

The above is from Bob Egelko's "VA faulted in diagnosing suicide candidates" (San Francisco Chronicle). That's your article from earth, the New York Times prefered to travel to the Land of Fantasy via Patricia Cohen's nonsense entitled "Talking Veterans Down From Despair" which can't even tell readers that there's not a new national phone line, it's the VA doing things on the cheap and piggy backing on the National Suicide Prevention Hot Line. For those wondering, she's not the Times reporter who spent the hearing Monday with a VA flack whispering in her ear. That was little Neilsie MacFarquhar. Why he'd be sent to cover a court case and waste his time by refusing to follow the case is a question to ask Neilsie. But you can be sure, the paper doesn't care. Which is probably why Patty Murray isn't mentioned in the paper today. From Matthew Daly's "Murray says VA's top mental health official should resign" (AP):

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Tuesday called for the chief mental health official of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to resign, saying he tried to cover up the rising number of veteran suicides.
Murray, the senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said Dr. Ira Katz, the VA's mental health director, deliberately withheld crucial information on the true suicide risk among veterans.
"Dr. Katz's irresponsible actions have been a disservice to our veterans and it is time for him to go," Murray said. "The number one priority of the VA should be caring for our veterans, not covering up the truth."
Murray and other Democratic senators said they were appalled at e-mails showing that Katz and other VA officials tried to conceal the number of suicides by veterans. An e-mail message from Katz revealed at a lawsuit this week starts with "Shh!" and refers to the 12,000 veterans per year who attempt suicide while under department treatment.

Also filed from the real world, Crisipn Thorold's "Offensive casts doubt on Iraqi forces" (BBC News):

From the beginning, the US government has characterised the operations against Shia militias in Basra and Baghdad as an Iraqi-led and executed campaign.
It is now clear that although the initial military planning was Iraqi, US and British forces are deeply involved.
In the capital's neighbourhood of Sadr City, US infantry troops are fighting alongside Iraqi soldiers, to try to secure areas that were once firmly under the hold of the Mehdi Army, which is loyal to the Shia cleric, Moqtada Sadr.
Reports suggest that US combat units have also been deployed at short notice to Basra from elsewhere in Iraq and the Middle East.

We'll address politics in the next entry and Isaiah's done a comic for today.
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