Suspected Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis visited Veterans Affairs hospitals in Providence and Washington, D.C., last month, weeks after telling Newport, R.I., police that people were talking to him through walls and sending vibrations through his body with a microwave-type machine, officials said.
In a statement, the VA said that Alexis, 34, visited the VA Medical Center in Providence Aug. 23 and complained of insomnia. He was given a “small amount’’ of medication to help him sleep and told to follow up with a primary care doctor, the statement said.
Five days later, Alexis went to the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and asked for a refill of the medication, attributing his sleeping difficulties to his work schedule, the VA said.
“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, all of which he denied,’’ the statement said.
The VA did not identify the medication he received for insomnia, though the New York Times has reported that it was Trazodone, an antidepressant commonly used to treat the condition.
The statement also acknowledged that Alexis enrolled in VA health care in February 2011.
“According to VA records, he never sought an appointment from a mental health specialist, and had previously either canceled or failed to show up for primary care appointments and claims evaluations examinations he had scheduled at VA medical centers,’’ the statement said.
The VA also confirmed today that Alexis filed a disability claim with the agency and was granted a 20 percent disability rating for orthopedic issues in December 2011. His rating was increased to 30 percent the following year for tinnitus, a condition in which people hear a persistent ringing in their ears. He received monthly benefits of $395, the VA said.
His visit to the Providence hospital came roughly two weeks after he called Newport police from his hotel room at the Marriott and said that he believed three people were talking to him through walls and sending vibrations through his body with “some sort of microwave machine,’’ according to a police report.
He also told responding officers that he had never had a psychological episode in the past.