Recently, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, announced that VA hospitals and clinics across the country would hire an additional 1,600 mental health clinicians and 300 support staff. The new staff of nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers will help meet the increasing demand for mental health services.
The VA’s Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System will add 16 new mental health clinicians. The new staff members will join teams that are already treating veterans through readjustment counseling, individualized counseling and immediate crisis services. They will also focus on expanding post-traumatic stress disorder research and look for alternative treatments and therapies, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
The agency plans to hire the new staff locally within the next six months.
In addition to hiring more mental health staff, in June the VA launched a campaign called AboutFace to bring attention to PTSD Awareness Month. The new website focuses on PTSD and compliments the department’s Make the Connection campaign that uses personal testimonials to show how veterans overcame challenges.
The new website includes videos of veterans explaining how PTSD affected them and their loved ones. Visitors to the website also learn ways to gain control over their lives.
Last year, the VA’s specialty mental health services treated 1.3 million veterans, according to a VA press release. Since 2009, the mental health care portion of the department’s budget has increased by 39 percent to address the increasing need for these services.
These new campaigns play a vital part in the VA’s overall mental health program. The department is working to make sure that those who bravely serve the nation have access to services they need to lead more fulfilling lives after they complete their military service.
Source: Lincoln Journal Star, “VA to add more mental health specialists,” June 14, 2012.
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