A handwritten note saying 'Your Navy Yard Neighbors Send (Love) and Prayers' is taped to a post across the street from an entrance to the Washington Navy Yard on Sept. 18. (Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)
Aaron Alexis, the Navy veteran and subcontractor believed responsible for Monday’s Washington Navy Yard shooting, was treated twice in August at veterans’ hospitals for insomnia but was never diagnosed by the Veterans Affairs Department with post-traumatic stress.
“On both occasions, Mr. Alexis was alert and oriented,” VA said in a statement issued Wednesday. Alexis “was asked by VA doctors if he was struggling with anxiety or depression, or had thoughts about harming himself or others, which he denied.”
A former Navy petty officer, Alexis was a disabled veteran with two service-connected disabilities: for orthopedic issues and tinnitus. His total disability rating was 30 percent, making him eligible for $395 in tax-free monthly disability pay, according to a VA statement issued Wednesday.
“According to VA records, he never sought an appointment from a mental health specialist, and had previously either canceled or failed to show up for primary care appointment and claims evaluations examinations he had scheduled at VA Medical Centers,” the statement said.
The statement comes in response to news reports that Alexis had been treated in Rhode Island for post-traumatic stress related to his being in New York City on Sept. 11, 2011.
He was seen twice in Rhode Island, VA said. He was seen on Aug. 23 at the VA Medical Center in Providence, going to the emergency room to complain of insomnia, the statement says.
“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,” the VA said.
On Aug. 28, Alexis went to the emergency room at the VA medical center in Washington, D.C., seeking to refill his prescription. Alexis “attributed his insomnia to his work schedule,” the statement says.
“He was giving a small refill and instructed to follow up with a primary care provider,” the statement says.
The VA statement is not good enough for lawmakers. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman, told the VA to turn all of its records over to his panel for review, and to be prepared to make employees available for questioning.
“To be clear, no such records shall be destroyed, modified, altered, deleted, removed, relocated or otherwise negligently or intentionally handled so as to make them inaccessible to the committee,” Miller said in a Wednesday letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. “If the practice of the VA involves the routine destruction, deletion, recycling, relocation, alteration or removal of such materials, such practices should be halted immediately and all records preserved.”
Miller’s letter was sent before the VA issued its statement on Alexis.