Improved Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Services for Veterans in the Horizon

September 17th, 2012 by Claudia Sloan Leave a reply »

President Obama signed an executive order on August 31 to improve access to mental health services for veterans, service members, and military families.  Some of the highlights of this Executive Order include:

  • Strengthens suicide prevention efforts across the Force and in the veteran community
    • will increase the VA veteran crisis line capacity by 50% by the end of the year 
    • will develop and implement a national 12 month suicide prevention campaign focused on connecting veterans to mental health services
    • Enhances access to mental health care by building partnerships between VA and community providers
      • In service areas where VA has faced challenges in hiring and placing mental health service providers and continues to have unfilled vacancies or long wait times, the Executive Order Directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to work with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish at least 15 pilot sites.  In pilot sites, VA will contract with community health centers, community mental health clinics, community substance abuse treatment facilities and other HHS grantees and community resources to help reduce VA mental health waiting lists 
      • Increases the number of VA mental health providers serving our veterans
        • VA will hire 800 peer-to-peer support counselors to empower veterans to support other veterans and help ensure that their mental health care and overall service needs are met
        • will use VA’s pay-setting authorities, loan repayment and scholarships, partnerships with health care workforce training programs, and collaborative arrangements with community-based providers to recruit, hire, and place 1,600 mental health professionals by June, 2013

Establishes an Interagency Task Force to make recommendations to the President on additional strategies to improve mental health and substance abuse treatment services for veterans, service members, and their families.

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