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VA says Navy Yard gunman didn’t seek mental health treatment

ARLINGTON, Va. — The veteran who killed 12 defense employees at the Washington Navy Yard this week showed no signs of violence or mental instability during two visits to Veterans Affairs physicians last month, officials said Wednesday.

In a statement, VA administrators said Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old defense contractor who snuck a shotgun onto the military base for the attack, visited VA medical centers twice in August but not for suicidal or violent tendencies.

“On both occasions, Alexis was alert and oriented, and was asked by VA doctors if he was struggling with anxiety or depression, or had thoughts about harming himself or others, which he denied,” the statement said.

But news reports have indicated that in separate events Alexis showed signs of severe mental distress. They include family reports of post-traumatic stress disorder and multiple complaints he made last month to Rhode Island police about hearing voices in his hotel room walls.

The separate pictures of a would-be killer underscore the frustration of investigators looking for missed warning signs that could have prevented Monday’s tragedy.

Alexis, who served four years as a Navy reservist, was rated 30 percent disabled by VA officials, but for orthopedic and hearing issues, not mental health problems. He received $395 a month for those service-connected injuries.

VA officials said Alexis first enrolled in department health care in February 2011, but never sought an appointment from a mental health specialist. They did note that he had canceled and failed to show up for some primary care appointments and claims evaluations examinations over the years.

During his August doctor visits, Alexis complained of insomnia related to his new work schedule and was given “a small amount of medication to help him sleep.” He was instructed to follow up with a primary care provider, but VA officials do not know if he did.

Investigators still have no motive for his deadly rampage. Alexis was shot and killed by security forces responding to his attack.

shane.leo@stripes.com
Twitter: @LeoShane

 

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