“On both occasions, Mr. 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,” said the memo, a copy of which has been obtained by The Washington Post.
The memo, the VA’s first account of its interactions with Alexis, was sent in response to requests for information by the House and Senate veterans affairs committees.
Alexis never sought an appointment with VA mental health specialists, according to the memo, which cited departmental records. He either canceled or did not show up for primary care appointments, the memo added.
During his visit Aug. 23 to the VA Medical Center in Providence, Alexis was given a small amount of a sleep medication and instructed to follow up with a primary care provider, the memo said.
Alexis showed up at the emergency room at the VA Medical Center in Washington five days later to request a refill, complaining of insomnia that he attributed to his work schedule, according to the memo.
Two law enforcement officials said the facility in Providence gave Alexis the antidepressant Trazodone, which is also used to treat anxiety and insomnia. The VA facility in the District gave him a refill, the officials said.
Alexis was enrolled in the VA health-care system in February 2011. He filed a disability compensation claim with the VA and in December 2011 was granted a 20 percent disability rating for “orthopedic issues,” according to the VA. A year later, the rating was increased to 30 percent, and an additional 10 percent was granted for tinnitus, a condition that involves ringing in the ear. Alexis was receiving $395 a month based on the disability rating, according to the VA.
The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee told the Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday that it must preserve all records involving its interactions with Alexis.
A letter sent by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki says that all documents, including work or personal e-mails, calendars and schedules of employees, “touching in any way to Aaron Alexis” should be turned over to the committee as soon as possible.
“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,” the letter states.
A top Navy official also addressed questions about the military’s beleaguered background check system. Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, who serves as chief of naval operations and was evacuated from his Navy Yard residence shortly after shots were fired in Monday’s deadly rampage, told a congressional hearing on sequestration Wednesday that any vulnerabilities that may exist in security procedures are unrelated to cost-control measures cited in a recent Defense Department Inspector General’s report.