Lawsuit accuses Department of Veterans Affairs of failing to prevent an 'epidemic of suicide'
By PAUL ELIAS
The Associated Press
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs isn't doing enough to prevent suicide and provide adequate medical care for Americans who have served in the armed forces, a class-action lawsuit that goes to trial this week charges.
The lawsuit, filed in July by two nonprofit groups representing military veterans, accuses the agency of inadequately addressing a "rising tide" of mental health problems, especially post-traumatic stress disorder.
But government lawyers say the VA has been devoting more resources to mental health and making suicide prevention a top priority. They also argue that the courts don't have the authority to tell the department how it should operate.
The trial is set to begin Monday in a San Francisco federal court.
An average of 18 military veterans kill themselves each day, and five of them are under VA care when they commit suicide, according to a December e-mail between top VA officials that was filed as part of the federal lawsuit.http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=4689416