July 16, 2007
Nicholson: VA Leading the Way in Increasing Access
“Given the reluctance of some veterans to talk about emotional problems, increasing our mental health presence in primary care settings will give veterans a familiar venue in which to receive care -- without actually going to an identified mental health clinic,” he said.
Nicholson described VA as “a long-standing leader in mental health,” with $3 billion devoted this year to mental health services. The Department has the nation’s largest mental health program and is internationally recognized for research and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“The wounds of war are not always the result of explosions and rocket fire,” he added. “They can sometimes be unseen and cloaked in silence. If left untreated, they can be just as lethal.”
“We let veterans know that mental health issues and other military-related readjustment problems are not their fault -- that we can help them -- and that they can get better,” he added.
Acknowledging that VA officials expect to see increasing numbers of newly returned combat veterans with PTSD and other mental health issues, Nicholson said mental health care is currently provided at each of VA’s 153 medical centers and 882 outpatient clinics.
Nicholson also announced plans to begin a series of regional conferences about providing mental health care to veterans with “our partners at the state, local and community levels.”
Recent expansion of the Department’s mental health services include:
“As the newest generation of combat veterans returns home, we want to ensure that we are providing them the very best in mental health care and treatment possible. They deserve nothing less,” Nicholson said.
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