Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission Finds Forced Administration Of Medication To Combat Mental Health Illness
WASHINGTON –(ENEWSPF)–July 8, 2016. U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Inspector General Michael Missal on recent investigations into VA hospitals in Illinois. The Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission found that rights violations were committed against Illinois veterans with disabilities at the Edward Hines Jr. and Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Hospitals. Senator Kirk called on Inspector General Missal to address and investigate reports of forced administration of medication without direct correlation to a veteran’s mental health needs and the issuance of criminal citations for a veteran exhibiting mental health related behavioral symptoms.
“Our veterans, especially those seeking treatment for mental health issues, deserve the best health care available and must be treated with dignity,” said Senator Kirk. “Addressing disturbing reports of violations at VA facilities should remain a top priority for IG Missal and receive immediate attention. Mistreatment of veterans at the VA is unacceptable.”
The full text of the letter is below:
July 8, 2016
The Honorable Michael Missal
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20420
Dear Mr. Missal,
Please find enclosed the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission’s recent investigations into ongoing rights violations committed against Illinois veterans with disabilities at the Edward Hines Jr. and Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Hospitals.
The Commission is particularly concerned with the forced administration of psychotropic medication, sometimes with VA police presence, without adequate cause to a veteran’s mental health needs and the issuance of criminal citations for a veteran exhibiting mental health related behavioral symptoms. As the Commission explains it, the VA Hospitals use the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (405 ILCS 5/2-107) to involuntarily commit veterans, however, they fail to uphold the same Code’s rights protections for these veterans.
The Guardianship and Advocacy Commission was created to protect the rights and promote the welfare of Illinois disabled citizens. I am confident you share my concerns over the violations the Commission has investigated and ask that you open an investigation. Specifically, please focus on the following questions:
I am concerned that these practices may be widespread and only thanks to the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission these violations were uncovered. Veterans with mental health problems should not be treated with less respect or without protections of their rights. Finally, I request that the VA establish a working relationship with state agencies like the Commission who provide important services to our less fortunate and disabled veterans. The wellbeing and humane treatment of veterans in need of mental health care is of vital importance. Federal and state agencies should be working together in the best interest of our nation’s heroes.
I look forward to receiving timely updates on your investigation and learning of your findings and recommendations to protect the rights of veterans who are seeking or in need of treatment at a Behavior Health Unit at Hines and Jesse Brown VA Hospitals.
I appreciate you opening an investigation into these allegations.
United States Senator
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