Did the VA make a mistake with “American Sniper” murder suspect?

CNN went to the Dallas VA hospital in an attempt to get some answers

NEW YORK (CNN) – What happened to Eddie Ray Routh before the shootings that left Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield dead? Were there mistakes made?

Why did the Dallas VA release Routh despite several warning signs? What if this veterans administration hospital in Dallas, which had American Sniper Chris Kyle and Chad Littleton’s killer as a patient on 4 occasions listened to Eddie Ray Routh’s mother? During the trial, she said under oath she told the VA her son was a danger to himself and others because of his PTSD, and had begged VA employees not to let him out.

We don’t know if her daughter also expressed concerns to the VA, but her views about her brother’s mental state became clear in a frantic 911 call just after the killings.

911 audio: “He said that he killed two guys-they went out to a shooting range like he’s all crazy, he’s f—ing psychotic.”

Jodi Routh testified that just eight days before the murders, officials here at the V-A hospital told her they were releasing Eddie and told her you need to pick him up.  She testified that she absolutely pleaded with them not to let him go. However, they did let him go even though he had threatened in the past to kill his family and himself. So why did the hospital release him?

CNN went to the Dallas VA hospital in an attempt to get some answers. Even before they were able to declare what we were there for, a security guard showed up.

“Do you have the approval of the public affairs office?” said the guard.

“My name is Gary Tuchman with CNN. We are doing a story on people who may be dangerous and what a family has to do to keep them from being let out,” said Tuchman.

“Do you have approval?,” asked the guard.

“That’s what we’re here to find out,” said Truman.

“You have to get the approval of the public affairs office,” said the guard.

CNN were then ordered to turn off the camera and the public affairs people said no to an interview after telling us several days ago they would consider it. Then, sent a written response instead, in which the VA declared that due to federal regulations and the ongoing trial.

“We are not able to provide you with patient health information regarding Eddie Ray Routh.” However, also added, “Although post traumatic stress disorder may be associated with increased risk of aggression, research shows individuals with PTSD are not dangerous. Most of the behaviors are mild. The majority of veterans and non-veterans with PTSD do not engage in violence.”

However, it’s not just members of Routh’s family who feel the VA didn’t take proper care in evaluating him. Former Navy Seal Brandon Webb, who ran the navy seal sniper program as course manager, was friends with Chris Kyle.

“I got to know Chris when he was a new guy checking in to SEAL Team 3,” said Webb.

Brandon Webb says he himself had PTSD and was given terrible post traumatic stress care at a different VA hospital.

He says he was never clearly informed if the powerful drugs he was given were safe to take at the same time.

“I don’t hold all of the blame on the VA, but they should have done a much better job of diagnosing this guy. And you certainly don’t let somebody like that out on the street and throw a bag of pills at the situation,” said Webb.

Listen to this, from Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, whom CNN met up with at the Dallas Fort Worth airport, “I was a nurse at the Veterans Administration here in Dallas.”

She was the Chief Psychiatric nurse at Eddie Ray Routh’s hospital. Congresswoman Johnson worked there in the 1970s. She says she receives many complaints today from VA employees, saying they’re afraid they could lose their jobs if they speak out to hospital administrators about patient care sometimes being compromised.

“You cannot manage an institution through intimidation and think you’re going to build a trust of the people who work for you and be focused on patient care when you’re focused on survival,” said Johnson.

Regarding that allegation, the Dallas VA hospital told CNN in part that it is, “focused on further developing a culture of patient safety and…empowering our staff at all levels with the education, tools, and processes to speak up if they believe improvement to care can be made.”

“If you were still in that hospital today, what would you have done, what would you have said?”

“There’s no way that you can just discharge a patient when the people closest to them realize how sick they are,” said Johnson.

In its written statement, the VA told us “we are proud of our mental health program and our mental health professionals.” However, their former patient Eddie Ray Routh killed two people right after he got out, two brave men who fought for their country.

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