Sanders: We must do 'a heck of a lot more' to fix mental health

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersModerates see vindication in Lipinski’s primary win Sanders: Fox News 'couldn't handle' town hall on economic inequality Mississippi woman appointed to Senate, making Vermont only state to never have female lawmaker MORE (I-Vt.) said Thursday the United States has to do “a heck of a lot more” to help people with mental health issues.

His comment came a day after a gunman killed three people and himself, and wounded 16 others on the Fort Hood, Texas, Army base Wednesday afternoon. 

According to the base commander, the shooter, identified as Ivan Lopez, had been undergoing evaluation for post-traumatic stress disorder, but hadn’t been diagnosed. He had served in Iraq in 2011. 

“We have hundreds of thousands of men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan who have come home with post-traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury,” Sanders said on MSNBC’s “Jansing & Co." 

Sanders serves as a chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and said he hopes the U.S. is serious this time about addressing the problem of mental health.

“If we are serious about reaching out and helping those people, we’ve got to provide the resources to do that,” Sanders said. “In the last five years, the VA has greatly expanded its mental health capabilities. But frankly, we have got to do more.” 

Mental health issues not only affect veterans and service members in the military, Sanders said, but they affect the entire country.

“We have to do a heck of a lot more than we are currently doing in terms of mental health,” he added.

Wednesday’s fatal shooting was reminiscent of the 2009 shooting in which Army psychiatrist Maj. Nadal Hassan killed 13 people. 

Lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, meanwhile, are holding a hearing on Thursday on legislation that would aim to overhaul the nation's mental healthcare system.