— The Department of Veterans Affairs announced June 13 it has met the goal to hire 1600 new mental health professionals outlined in President Obama’s August 31, 2012 Executive Order to improve access to mental health services for veterans, service members, and military families.
This enhances the ability to improve access to care for veterans seeking mental health services and demonstrates the VA’s continued commitment to the health and well being of the men and women who have served the Nation. The VA realizes meeting this goal is an important achievement, but recognizes they must continue to increase access to the quality mental healthcare veterans have earned and deserve.
As of May 31, 2013, the VA has hired a total of 1,607 mental health clinical providers to met the goal of 1,600 new mental health professionals outlined in the Executive Order. Additionally, the VA has hired 2,005 mental health clinical providers to fill existing vacancies.The VA has also hired over 300 new peer specialists towards the goal of 800 by December 31, 2013. The VA expects to meet that goal as well.
The VA recognizes that meeting the needs of veterans and their families requires collaboration and partnership between the VA, other federal agencies, and local communities. The President is directing all health care systems nationwide to conduct locally-driven mental health summits to further engage with local community partners and nurture community engagement to address the broad mental health needs of veterans and their families. Each VA health care system will reach out to relevant veteran service organizations, community based organizations, health care providers, and local governments to develop and conduct the summits.
The VA provides a full range of comprehensive mental health services across the country. In fiscal year 2012, more than 1.3 million veterans received specialized mental health care from the VA. This number has risen each year since 2006. In addition to hiring more mental health professionals, the Va is expanding the use of innovative technology to serve veterans in rural or undeserved areas. The VA expects to increase the number of veterans receiving care from tele-mental health services in fiscal year 2013, and has increased the number of Vet Centers, which provide readjustment counseling and referral services from 233 in 2008 to 300 in 2012.
In November 2011, the VA launched an award winning, national public awareness campaign called Make the Connection, which is aimed at reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health care and informing veterans, their families, friends, and members of their communities abo ut VA resources. More information on Make the Connection can be found at www.maketheconnection.net .
Mental health professionals interested in seeking employment with the Department of Veterans Affairs can obtain information at www.vacareers.va.gov . Veterans and their families interested in leaning more about the mental health services provided by the VA can go to www.mentalhealth.va.gov.
Happy Fathers Day Veterans! Speak to you again next week.