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Lawmakers question VA's plans to hire more staff

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KEVIN FREKING
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal lawmakers are casting doubts on the adequacy of the Department of Veterans Affairs' plans to hire 1,900 additional workers to improve access to mental health care.

Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House committee with jurisdiction over veterans' issues, said the VA's plans looked like a knee-jerk reaction to a critical inspector general's investigation.

That investigation released two weeks ago found that nearly half of the veterans seeking mental health care for the first time waited about 50 days before getting a full evaluation.

VA officials insisted in a congressional hearing Tuesday that the plans to hire more workers had been in the works for months.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said that hiring proposal was based mostly upon an increase in patients that has occurred in recent years.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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