Daines Calls on VA to Name New Montana Director, Address Mental Health Care Challenges

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Steve Daines is calling on Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald to quickly name a permanent director of VA Montana and take steps to address the mental health care challenges facing the Montana facility.

In a letter sent today to McDonald, Daines stressed that the prolonged delay in naming a new director has prevented VA Montana from addressing serious challenges facing the agency – including the recruitment and retention of qualified mental health care professionals.

“Among other adverse impacts, the absence of a permanent director providing clear leadership for the entire organization is an impediment to recruiting exceptional health professionals to serve within VA Montana. I am especially troubled by the serious shortage of trained psychiatrists within VA Montana due to unexpected resignations and retirements,” Daines wrote. “I request that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs take concrete actions to assist VA Montana in filling vacant psychiatrist positions and ensure Montana’s veterans have access to the psychiatric treatment they need.”

Daines noted that due to recent psychiatrist resignations at VA Montana, the facility is no longer able to admit new psychiatric patients. Veterans are instead being diverted to Sheridan, Wyoming, or local civilian medical facilities.

VA Montana has lacked a permanent director since June of last year. Despite assurances that a permanent director would be named by the close of 2014, the VA has still failed to fill the position.

Daines’ full letter to McDonald is available HERE.