VA Suicides Hidden

This is just sad. Dr. Ira Katz, the chief mental health official for the VA, is being called upon to resign as a result of apparently attempting to cover up the number of suicides that have occurred or been attempted whilst under VA care.

Now, I know my usual take on stories such as these. And indeed, I am outright sickened by the fact that our veterans are being treated so. From the educational benefits bill that John McCain refused to support, to Walter Reed, few things can anger me as much as watching brave men and women serve their country honorably, and yet be treated so dishonorably.

It quite literally makes me sick.

But there’s something further with this story, something that has become endemic in the culture of our highest ranking government officials. We see it in Iraq, we see it in the way the President has dealt with the economy.

It is that inability to look at the negative, as though the image of an institution is far more important than whether that institution is working properly, and actually helping the people it was put in place to help. With Iraq, so many goalposts have been shifted, justifications aired, and corners turned that it truly becomes almost impossible to determine which way is up. Just like the administration’s refusal to call torture torture, or to call a recession a recession.

It’s all about the PR, and I suppose to a degree it’s all to be expected. No one want to look like an idiot or the bad guy, especially a bunch of folks whose livelihood depends upon how people view them.

But the problem here is that refusing to recognize faults in the system, failure to identify problems at their proper scope, results in an inability to actually formulate working plans to cope with these challenges.

And in this specific situation, people are dying as a result.

To give you an idea of the scope, according to the article, 790 suicides attempts under VA mental care were reported for last year. Yet, one of the retrieved emails that has led to this uproar indicates that there were as many as 12,000 a year.

That’s insane.

And by not reporting these results, there’s no accountability, there’s no way someone from the outside can say, “Okay, look, you’re probably doing this, this, and this wrong, so let’s come up with a way to fix that.”

Nope, just a few folks trying to plug up a dam. The weight of these transgressions, however, will not be dammed forever.

(edited by DrGail)

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