Sen. Blunt: Imminent mental health problems need to be treated like imminent heart attacks

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, met Thursday afternoon with behavioral health professionals at Truman Medical Center and among other topics, he addressed the criticism the Veterans Affairs Administration is facing over delayed care of veterans.

Sen. Blunt sponsored the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which calls for improved behavioral healthcare.

Sen. Blunt's visit comes less than a week after Iraq veteran Isaac Sims was killed while suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

On Sunday, May 25, officers were called to his Kansas City home to investigate reports that he had shot at his father and a neighbor, who were not injured. Officers reported hearing several gunshots inside the home and a four-hour standoff began.

When police say he pointed a rifle at officers, they fired and killed Sims.

Sims' family says he was having severe flashbacks, believing he was back in Iraq searching for explosive devices.  According to his parents, he went to the V.A. for help last Wednesday but was turned away. They say his inability to be treated led to his death.

"Why for God sake, why was my son not taken in on Wednesday?" Adrian Sims, Sims' father, asked in a question FOX 4 then directed at Blunt.

"I don't think there is a reasonable answer for that," Blunt answered.

Another army veteran, Tony Barron, says he's also still struggling alone from PTSD, with no timely help from the V.A.

He says the last time he had an appointment with a V.A. doctor was 2012. Barron says it was canceled by the V.A. and never rescheduled. He says they tell him they won't be able to get him in until July and he fears his nightmares and flashbacks could provoke him to do something like Isaac Sims.

"I could have flashbacks and I feel like I'm in a war zone and then it could be another Isaac," Barron said.

Barron wanted FOX 4 to ask Blunt if he is going to fix the V.A. system.

When we asked Sen. Blunt on behalf of Barron, Blunt said he was trying his best. He said four days should be the maximum wait to get a first appointment, and if it's urgent, an appointment should be available in one day.  He said he's insisting that one-day be standard.

"A mental health problem that is imminent is as imminent as a heart attack, and you don`t tell someone who needs a heart attack, we`ll see you  in 30 days," Blunt said.

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