Committee charges cover-up on vet suicides

May 6, 2008 3:39:00 PM PDT
Some somber news about our troops who are fighting abroad. Suicide has become a major issue for the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Suicide has become a major issue for the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some say 18 veterans take their lives every day.....that's more than die in combat.

But actual numbers are hard to come by.

And today in Washington... lawmakers accused the Veterans Affairs Department of a cover-up.

And e-mails uncovered recently in a San Francisco trial seem to support that.

California Congressman Bob Filner, the chairman of the Veterans Affairs committee accused the Department of criminal negligence. Congreman Filner said, "The pattern is deny, deny, deny. Then when facts seemingly come to disagree with those denials you cover up, cover up, cover up. When the cover up falls apart you admit a little bit of a problem and underplay it - it's only a few people."

V-A Secretary James Peake says he's not satisfied with the accuracy of suicide reports, but wouldn't say whether those handling the information should be fired.

In the California trial, attorneys representing veterans' groups have asked a federal judge to order the government to provide better mental health care.

A recent study shows that veterans committed suicide between 3 and 7 times more than the national average, often while their medical claims are under appeal.

The lawsuit contends the Veterans Affairs Department is unable to deal with the growing number of post-traumatic distress cases stemming from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Federal Judge Samuel Conti in San Francisco is expected to rule before month's end.

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