VA won’t ramp up security after rash of suicides on premises. Here’s why.
In the wake of a troubling trend of veteran suicides and at least one shooting on the premises of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in recent weeks, VA leaders are preparing for congressional scrutiny and hearings on the matter.
What they’re not doing, however, is planning to ramp up security at VA centers through the use of metal detectors. While incidents at individual VA facilities may prompt local reviews, the majority of security decisions are not made at the national level.
It’s a delicate balance between providing a safe environment at the VA and keeping facilities safe and accessible to all, said Dr. Keita Franklin, the VA’s National Director of Suicide Prevention. And officials, she said, are sensitive about taking steps that might undermine that message of openness.
“We want our VA facilities to be warm and welcoming — a place where veterans are willing, where they want to go. We don’t want them to perceive the facilities as places where they get hassled or that they have any level of barrier when it comes to accessing care,” Franklin told Military.com in an interview Thursday.
The message was underlined earlier this week in a statement by VA Secretary Robert Wilkie: “Providing same-day 24/7 access to mental health crisis intervention and support for veterans, service members and their families is our top clinical priority.”
That’s not to say that nothing is changing in the wake of the recent tragedies.
In a horrific incident on April 9, a veteran pulled a gun in the waiting room of a VA clinic in Austin, Texas, and killed himself in front of staff and other patients. The Austin suicide followed two others at VA …read more
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