Udall demands VA doctor resign

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By Carol A. Clark

In a letter to President Bush Thursday, Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., called for the immediate resignation of Dr. Ira Katz, who heads up mental health programs at the Veterans Administration.

During a telephone interview Friday, Udall expressed outrage over revelations in a VA inspector general’s report released Thursday and e-mails between Katz and other VA officials released last week. The e-mails show the doctor and others were apparently trying to hide the facts of the rising number of suicide attempts by veterans.

“It looks like Dr. Katz has been covering up suicide attempts by our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Udall said. “We’re talking about 12,000 suicide attempts a year, and he’s been downplaying it to Congress.”

In his letter to Bush, Udall called the number of suicide attempts a staggering figure on a tragic issue. The fact that Dr. Katz not only denied the validity of these figures, but also presented testimony to Congress and to the public that was egregiously misleading is absolutely unacceptable, he said.

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