The Department of Veterans Affairs has greatly overstated how quickly it provides mental-health care for veterans, according to an inspector general’s report released Monday.
Contrary to VA claims that 95 percent of first-time patients seeking mental-health care in 2011 received an evaluation within the department’s goal of 14 days, just under half were seen in that time frame, the report found. A majority waited about 50 days on average for a full evaluation.
A similar claim that 95 percent of new patients in 2011 got appointments to begin treatment within 14 days of their desired date was also far off the mark; the report from the VA Office of Inspector General estimated that 64 percent of patients did; the rest waited on average 40 days.
The inflated claims, made in the VA’s fiscal 2011 performance and accountability report, come with the department facing growing demand for mental-health services, as thousands of veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan.