For over forty years the congressionally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) systems have served to protect and advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities in every U.S. state and territory through monitoring and investigation. Given the expertise and the independent and objective nature of the P&As, the National Disability Rights Network feels that the P&As are in a unique position to help the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proactively and effectively address and remedy the many real issues that our veterans in federal VA facilities face in getting the quality care they need and to which they are entitled.
Who are the Protection and Advocacy systems?
Every state and territory, including Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, has a federally mandated P&A system charged with protecting the rights of people with disabilities through legally based advocacy. Each P&A provides a full array of advocacy services for people with disabilities no matter the disability or age of the individual. The P&As work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, psychiatric wards, correctional facilities, schools, and the community.
Why Protection and Advocacy agencies?
For over forty years, P&As have provided critical, independent, and objective advocacy and protection for individuals with disabilities. One important component of this work is monitoring the quality of care people with disabilities are receiving in hospitals, clinics, and other facilities. As a nationwide network with knowledge and experience in monitoring and investigations concerning abuse and neglect, as well as quality of care, NDRN considers it vital that veterans have access to P&A advocacy and protection when in the care of a VA medical facility for mental health and/or substance use issues.
How will this demonstration project work?
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs will be authorized to award a grant to four P&A agencies who have demonstrated monitoring and investigation experience coupled with knowledge of issues facing veterans to monitor the mental health and substance use care and treatment veterans are receiving at VA facilities. The Secretary will also consider whether the state or territory has low aggregate scores in the domains of mental health, performance, and access as rated by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Strategic Analytics Improvement and Learning (SAIL) database system which measures and evaluates the quality and efficiency at VA medical facilities.
P&As will submit the findings from these monitoring visits and investigations to the VA. The demonstration projects are authorized for a period of five years. We believe this length of time is sufficient to demonstrate the valuable work that P&As can do for veterans and to allow for the value of the program to be assessed