Schumer: Better Communication Needed Between State, Federal Offices

Sep 25, 2013

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

In the wake of the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard last week that left 12 people dead, New York U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is calling for increased communication between law enforcement and Veterans Affairs medical centers.

Schumer says the V.A. should work better with law enforcement and review its mental health services.

“It's not complicated.” said Schumer. “We need to increase the number and type of mental health providers in the V.A. system so more patients can have access to this life-saving resource.”

He wants the V.A. to investigate its handling of mentally ill veterans and is calling for more coordination between police and V.A. medical centers to treat veterans with mental health problems.

Police say former Navy reservist and military contractor, Aaron Alexis killed 12 people on the base in Washington D.C. last week.

Schumer says ineffective communication between police and military allowed Alexis to go untreated. Alexis had previously been involved in shooting incidents and showed signs of mental illness, but the V.A. was not informed.

“He showed all the signs.” said Schumer. “Police knew about them. He had been to the V.A. but still nothing was done. And we’re doing to this to prevent veterans from hurting either themselves or others.”

Schumer says the V.A. and defense department should set up a 24-hour national mental health clinic.

There are currently eight V.A. hospitals and 35 clinics in upstate New York.