Federal Government Sued by Iraq Vet Widow


The young widow of an Iraq war veteran who killed himself in March 2006 is suing the federal government for alleged negligence. Tiera Woodward claims that her husband, Donald, sought treatment for depression at a VA hospital in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, after three suicide attempts. He was in outpatient care when he killed himself. Woodward alleges that he was not seen by a psychiatrist for over two months, and that once Donald was diagnosed with severe depression, a psychiatrist did not schedule a follow-up appointment when he went off his medication. The lawsuit seeks compensation for funeral expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Donald Woodward’s mother says she intends for the VA to “make changes.” She says that she has several friends whose children are in Iraq, as well as a nephew in the same unit her son was in.

There are several other lawsuits that have been filed against the VA’s mental-health services, including one in Massachusetts over a Marine’s 2004 suicide. A suit filed by two veterans groups in San Francisco against the VA seeking an overhaul of its health system was dismissed in June over venue issues.

According to Veterans for Common Sense, over 150,000 veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have sought mental health care from the VA, and 200,000 have sought medical care. Post traumatic stress disorder has been blamed for a majority of returning veterans mental health issues, and many critics of the VA allege the agency has failed to provide the appropriate care needed.