Appeals Court Blasts VA Mental Health Care System

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal appeals court has ordered the Department of Veterans' Affairs to dramatically overhaul its mental health care system.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that the VA's "unchecked incompetence" in handling a flood of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health claims is unconstitutional.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by two veteran groups that alleged the VA is taking too long to process the claims. The appeals court overturned a trial judge's 2008 ruling that tossed out the lawsuit.

In Tuesday's unanimous decision, the appeals court ordered the judge to work with the VA and the veterans groups in drawing up a new mental health care plan.