May 8, 2012

Federal court reverses order for VA system overhaul

by Paul Elias
Associated Press

A federal appeals court reversed its demand that the Veterans Affairs Department dramatically overhaul its mental health care system.

A special 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said May 7 that any such overhaul needs to be ordered by Congress or the president.

The 10-1 ruling reversed an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of the same court.

The May 2011 ruling had ordered the VA to ensure that suicidal vets are seen immediately, among other changes. It found the VA’s “unchecked incompetence” in handling the flood of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health claims was unconstitutional.

The new decision said courts are powerless to implement the fixes sought by two veterans groups that filed the lawsuit against the VA in 2007.

In the strongly worded ruling in May, the 9th Circuit said it takes the department an average of four years to fully provide the mental health benefits owed veterans. The court also said it often takes weeks for a suicidal vet to get a first appointment.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski dissented from that ruling, writing that the ruling trampled congressional limits on judicial review of VA decisions.

Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth filed the lawsuit in San Francisco federal court in 2007. After a two-week trial in 2008, U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti said he was powerless to act because Congress narrowly limited the authority courts have in reviewing VA benefit decisions.

Conti didn’t find a system-wide crisis in which health care is not being provided within a reasonable time to the roughly 5 million veterans enrolled in the VA’s health care system, which includes 153 hospitals and 800 clinics.


All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.



Defense cuts could hit civilian workforce

Tens of thousands of civilian employees in the Defense Department could receive warnings about potential layoffs four days before the November election if impending spending cuts aren’t averted, hitting presidential battleground states such as Virginia and Florida hard. The alerts would come in addition to any that major defense contractors might send out at the...
Air Force photograph by SSgt. William P. Coleman

Training exercises enhance international relations

Air Force photograph by SSgt. William P. Coleman Colombian air force Kfir aircraft prepare for a mission during Red Flag 12-4 July 18, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. A U.S. Air Force pilot rides in the backseat of a Kfir ...

Airbus owner EADS ups targets, delays A350

Airbus parent company EADS NV July 27 announced a further delay to its new A350 aircraft as it reported second-quarter earnings that almost quadrupled from a year ago. Net profit at the Leiden, Netherlands-based European Aeronautic Defence & Space Company was $567 million, up from $148 million in the same period a year ago. Sales...

Courtesy photograph

Boeing receives 10th WGS satellite order from U.S. Air Force

Courtesy photograph The Wideband Global SATCOM satellite is the successor to the Defense Satellite Communications System-III. One WGS satellite has about 12 times the bandwidth of a DSCS-III satellite. EL SEGUNDO, Calif. –...

Lockheed Martin’s Gyrolinkâ„¢ selected for U.S. Army’s R-VOSS program

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $21.4 million contract from the U.S. Army for its commercial GyroLinkâ„¢ system for the Remote – Vehicle Optics Sensor System program. GyroLink provides a real-time full motion video network that transmits video across military vehicles at significant distances. This allows members of a route-clearance patrol to use monitors inside...

News Briefs – July 30, 2012

Mechanical failure blamed in Arizona Harrier crash Military officials say early findings point to mechanical failure in the crash of a U.S. Marine Corps Harrier attack jet on a training mission in southwestern Arizona. The AV-8B Harrier went down July 25 afternoon about 15 miles northwest of the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma near the...


Be the first to comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>