More Mental Health Counseling for Veterans
I recently learned that the Department of Veterans Affairs is building a mental health clinic for veterans in Tampa.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki explained the reason in a press release: “This new facility will ensure that Florida’s Veterans continue to have access to high-quality medical care that they’ve earned through their service to our Nation.”
That’s absolutely true.
Since 2007, VA has seen a 35 percent increase in the number of veterans receiving mental health services, according to VA figures.
As a result, the department has devoted more people, programs, and resources toward mental health services to serve the growing number of veterans seeking mental health care. The department is a pioneer in mental health research, high-quality, evidence-based treatment, and access to care.
In April, Secretary Shinseki said VA was adding close to 1,600 mental health clinicians – to include nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers – as well as nearly 300 support staff to its existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff as part of an ongoing review of mental health operations.
The expansion of VA’s mental health staff and facilities is intended to treat veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses.
Unlike veterans of earlier wars, many young veterans were deployed two, three or more times in the current conflicts. Last year, VA nationwide treated 99,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan for PTSD, according to news reports.
It’s great to know VA is adding staff and building a new clinic in Tampa, which will be five miles from the Haley VA facility and provide services for nearly 148,000 veterans in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Polk counties.
At Veterans Support Organization, we support VA medical centers across the nation by donating thousands of dollars every year to programs that assist the needs of veterans. We will continue supporting these vital programs, as well as supporting other veterans through our work program which provides hundreds of jobs in the 19 states that VSO operates in.
I agree with Secretary Shinseki: our veterans deserve the best care and support -- from all of us.
That’s the least we can give them for their sacrifices.