Dr. Ira Katz, the VA’s top mental health official told Congress he madea poor choice of words when he sent an email to his colleages about the issue of veteran suicides that began with “Shh.” The email in discussing veteran suicides, said: “is this something we should(carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?” Commmitte chairman, Rep. Bob Filner accused Kata of being more concerned about how data was interpreted than the health of vetrans. He also said Katz–as well as others involved–should be fired, and the VA was guilt of criminal negligence in handling data about the number of veterans who have committed suicide.
The head of the Veterans Administration, James Peake, said it was an unfortunate choice of words but he saw no reason to reprimand anyone. White House press secretary Dana Perno, said President Bush has “full confidence in Secretary Peake and believes that he is handling it appropriately.” Peake insisted there has not been any abnormal rise in the number of veteran suicides.
If the history of people in whom President Bush has confidence says anything, we can well accept that Secretary Peake will match the outstanding record of those who handled the Katrina episode.