The Unfortunate Current State of Veterans Mental Health Treatment Options

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Veterans Mental Health

America’s Veteran’s Administration has made numerous headlines over time for failing to serve its clientele. The issue includes the VA’s poor mental health service options to emotionally ill or distraught members of the US military. So many service personnel who’d relied on VA help for improvement with their worsening medical and mental health conditions deteriorated or died under its watch that observers studied the problem and ultimately made changes for improvement.

A RAND Institute article Special Feature: The Cost and Quality of VA Mental Health Services cited the statistic of 20 suicides daily among veterans, with a higher risk for sexually traumatized female members of the military. Suicide hotline callers claimed to be ill-served by the VA’s male-oriented mindset. However, the article cites that “… it is really exciting to see that the VA has already developed tools that can identify high-risk patients and conducts outreach to them to make sure that they’re doing well. That should be really effective at preventing suicide risk.” Evidence indicates that the outreach effort is not doing the job, however. Let’s look at some chronological proof of the overall problem, a threat to the well-being and very lives of veterans within the US military.

In 2011, a Wired magazine article had shouted in capital letters that ThE VA FAILS AT PTSD TREATMENT – AGAIN. A 2013 Huffington Post article announced in its unusually capitalized headline that “Military and Veteran Suicides Rise Despite Aggressive Prevention Efforts.” That same year, USA Today announced that many veterans still wait weeks for mental health care.

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Though exceptions to the rule may be true, the lives of many mentally distraught military veterans, and the VA mental services designed to serve them, seem not to have improved over time. The American Public Health Association mentioned a pause-worthy statistic in the opening lines of its 2014 article, Removing Barriers to Mental Health Services for Veterans: “Rates of trauma and mental illness are disproportionately high among American veterans, especially those of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Barriers to care after civilian reentry further disadvantage this already vulnerable population. The United States Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs must take steps to improve access to mental health care for these veterans.”

Combat veterans, especially those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, are so consistently underserved by the VA’s mental health services that a 2016 National Veteran’s Association article cited Veteran Mental Health – Facts and Stats that need to be Addressed, mentioning in the article that numerous barriers to accessing mental health services exist within the VA itself. That gives rise to the question “Is the outreach effort working or not?”

President Trump seems to have directed the Veteran’s Administration into increased effectiveness with his June 2017 firing of poorly performing VA employees. Some had been guilty of various misdemeanors, armed robbery, and of watching pornography instead of providing psychiatric services. Trump strengthened the protections of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Whistleblower Protection Act and stated, “We will not rest until the job is 100 percent complete for our great veterans.”

We at pray that these safeguards will serve our protectors well. Military personnel risk their lives to protect America. They deserve effective Quality of Life services as they adjust to post-combat life and recover from the horrors of their experiences.

Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts a healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.