Navy Yard Shooter Sought No VA Mental Health Care

Sep 18, 2013 5:11pm

Alleged Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis never sought an appointment with a mental health specialist, the Veterans Affairs Department said today.

He paid two visits in late August to two different VA Medical Center emergency rooms seeking treatment for insomnia, according to department records. During each visit, Alexis told VA doctors that he was not struggling with anxiety or depression, or had thoughts about harming himself or others when they posed those questions to him, the department said.

AP Aaron Alexis nt 130918 16x9 608 Navy Yard Shooter Sought No VA Mental Health Care

                                                (Image Credit: Courtesy of Kristi Suthamtewakul/AP Photo)

Shooter Carved “BETTER OFF THIS WAY’ Into Shotgun

Alexis went to the emergency room at the VA Medical Center in Providence, R.I.,  Aug. 23, complaining of insomnia, according to a VA statement released today. After a medical examination, he was given a small amount of medication to help him sleep and was instructed to follow up with a primary-care provider.

Alexis was working in Newport, R.I., at the time as a Navy contractor working on the Navy and Marine Corps’ intranet system at the naval base in Newport.

He killed 12 employees of the Navy Yard and injured others before he was killed by police gunfire Monday morning.

Earlier last month, on Aug. 7,  the Newport Police Department in Rhode Island visited Alexis’ hotel after he complained about hearing voices and “vibrations to his body” that prevented him from sleeping.  Alexis told the investigating officer “that he does not have a history of mental illness in his family and that he has never had any sort of mental episode,” according to a copy of the police report from the incident obtained by ABC News.

After being contacted by the Newport Police Department, security personnel at the base determined that he was not a threat to himself or others, the Navy said today. That information was not passed up the chain of command.

Alexis paid another visit to a VA emergency room Aug. 28, this time at the VA Medical Center in Washington. He requested a medication refill and attributed his insomnia on his work schedule.  He was provided with a “small refill” and was once again told to follow up with a visit to a primary-care provider.

On both occasions, “Mr. Alexis was alert and oriented, and was asked by VA doctors if he was struggling with anxiety or depression, or had thoughts about harming himself or others, which he denied,” according to the VA statement.

Alexis never sought an appointment from a mental health specialist from the time that he was first enrolled in the VA’s medical program in February 2011, the statement said. Alexis left the Navy Reserves  with an honorable discharge in January 2011.

But VA records indicate that Alexis either canceled or failed to show up for primary-care appointments and claims evaluations he had scheduled at VA Medical Centers.

After leaving the Navy, Alexis filed a disability compensation claim and received a 20 percent disability rating from the  VA for “orthopedic issues” Dec. 12, 2011.  The rating was increased almost a year later to 30 percent for tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ears.

The 30 percent disability rating amounted to $395 in monthly benefits retroactive to his separation from service, the VA said.

Alexis served as an Aviation Electrician’s Mate Third Class during the four years he served with the Navy Reserves.

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